This page aggregates blogs and status info from Moodle developers. Please contact Helen if you'd like your feed added.
07 March, 2014
by Eloy Lafuente (stronk7).
38 issues have been successfully integrated with 8 rejected and 2 delayed. That is 83% success, not bad.
- 3 minor releases are coming next Monday (Moodle 2.4.9, 2.5.5 and 2.6.2).
- 2 weeks for 2.7 full demo of new features (March 24th).
- 1 day for Jerome to leave us. We'll miss you, man!
- 0 more things to say, countdown finished.
- MDL-41266 - Logging interfaces have landed, now reports will begin to use them.
- MDL-43635 - Better handling of custom context levels.
- MDL-43738 - Normalize Behat forms handling.
- MDL-44361 - Yui updated to 3.15.0
- And lots more, including security fixes for the incoming releases, and solutions in areas like quizzes, themes, libraries, glossaries...
- To Michael Milette, for his collaboration and help in the Tracker, proposing and solving multiple accessibility issues. Thanks!
Ciao all, stronk7
07 March, 2014 02:22 AM
28 February, 2014
by Damyon Wiese.
41 issues have been successfully integrated with 10 rejected and 0 delayed. That is 80% success, great (but Sams is still skewing the counts with phpdocs fixes).
- MDL-25505 - Scheduled tasks / Parallel cron
- MDL-41767 - plugins unable to provide "bootstrapbase" or "clean" styles
- MDL-44269 - Change location of navbar (breadcumb) to below logo in Clean theme.
- Daniel Neis for reporting, fixing and following up on issues right across Moodle. Thankyou, please do more of that!
28 February, 2014 07:18 AM
27 February, 2014
I am at the MoodleMaharaMoot in Leipzig listening to people talk about Moodle.
First, the good news is that about half the words in English came from the same roots as German, so there are a fair number of words you can recognise, at least if you have time to read them from the screen. For words that seem really key, there is Google translate. Also, the Germans seems like using English phrases for eLearning-related things, like Learning Analytics, or Multiple Choice.
However, I don’t think I was even understanding 10% of the words. What really makes a difference to intelligibility is what is on the screen. If speaker just had powerpoint slides with textual bullet points, that does not help. If the speaker uses the screen to show you what they are talking about - screen grabs or live demos - that is much better. Of course, this is just: show, don’t tell.
It also makes a big difference whether you already know a little bit about what is being said. I talked to some people from University of Vienna two years ago when they started building their offline quiz activity, so I already knew what it was supposed to do. I followed that presentation (which contained many screen-grabs) better than most. What they have done looks really slick, by the way.
Regarding my presentation, I feel vindicated in my plan to spend almost all of the presentation doing a live demonstration of the question types I was talking about. Of course, I am sure that almost everyone in the audience has better English than I have German. Also, I apologies that I talked for the whole time, and did not leave an opportunity for questions.
Finally, I have been speculating (without reaching any conclusions) about whether the experience of sitting there, failing to understand almost everything that is being said, and just picking some scraps from the slides, is giving me any empathy for people with severe disabilities who need major accessibility support to use software? As I say, these thoughts are inconclusive. What does anyone else think?
By the way, Germans applaud by rapping on the table with their knuckles. Your trivia fact for the day.
by Tim Hunt (email@example.com) at 27 February, 2014 05:48 PM
26 February, 2014
I just spent an entire day worrying away at a complex bug, when a single word in a comment sparked a thought, sent me off in a different direction and solved the problem in under an hour.
Its been said before, and it’ll be forgotten again so for the record …
Comments are awesome!
The bug was in OUAnnotate, but it could have been anywhere. The problem was that when you have multiple annotations in the same place, and you click the settings button, the settings panel for the last annotation in the pile opens, not the panel for the annotation you wanted to change.
Each panel has its own object, so code like myComment.setState(‘Active’) should be very specific to the object. How could it possibly be affecting the wrong one?
It was a mess. I was seriously considering rewriting the whole state management part of the system. Yuck.
Along the way I noticed the comment “replace myComment with one for the current annotation”.
That one word clinched it. I quickly saw that myComment was in scope at too high a level, so there wasn’t one per comment, but one per location. And I could easily alter the scope by moving the definition inside the loop for each comment, and after a good amount of testing everything seems to be back to normal.
So the moral of this tale is to remember that comments can help you and those who come after you to clarify what is meant to be happening. Whenever you do something a bit fiddly, don’t forget to comment it. Especially if it relies on code elsewhere in the file/system so you can’t see the two in one place.
Oh I know code should be self-documenting. Yes that’s important too. There shouldn’t be as many comments as lines of code, and comments like $i++; // increment $i are useless.
But to those developers reading this (and me to force me to remember) anything a bit complex needs a comment. And the words need to be useful. Replace, not Set up or Declare in this instance made the world of difference.
by jennymgray at 26 February, 2014 01:23 PM
21 February, 2014
by Damyon Wiese.
74 issues have been successfully integrated with 7 rejected and 0 delayed. That is 90% success, great (but all Sams issues fixing phpdocs have skewed this week).
- There is a 2.4 release this week because we were convinced to backport some non-security - but nasty data-loss bugs for the quiz backup/restore
- Up for review next week is - Parallel cron aka scheduled tasks (MDL-25505).
- Work is continuing on Atto (the new text editor), Logging and Clean as the default theme - expect to see them integrated in the coming weeks.
- Do you have some spare minutes and some knowledge? Take a look to this list of issues waiting for peer review and let's reduce it to zero.
- MDL-27414 - Upgrade the randomsamatch question type to the new question engine
- MDL-44018 - variant field of question_attempts table is not getting backed up by Moodle backup
- MDL-42618 - Importing Grades via CSV with blank or whitespace as useridnumber
- MDL-43504 - Collapsable courses and categories don't work (combo list??)
- And lots more in quiz, themes, events, and phpdocs
- To our newest iTeam member Rajesh Tanaja, for jumping enthusiastically into our testing team with David and becoming a Jenkins Jedi.
21 February, 2014 02:14 AM
13 February, 2014
by Eloy Lafuente (stronk7).
29 issues have been successfully integrated with 7 rejected and 3 delayed. That is 81% success, not bad.
- After some good discussions here and there it seems that, soon, we'll be able to have namespaces under control. Once everything gets reviewed and decided, they will be added to out coding style guidelines.
- Some awesome developments are happening under the scene, into some big development branches, it's time to learn about events (since 2.6), logging, atto and conditional availability enhancements, all them important goals for Moodle 2.7. Read the specs, look at the issues, discuss in forums, now it's the time!
- Do you have some spare minutes and some knowledge? Take a look to this list of issues waiting for peer review and let's reduce it to zero.
- MDL-42882 - Performance improvement on upgrade when handling files.
- MDL-40938 - Login block using the clean theme.
- MDL-44029 - Quiz user overrides being deleted incorrectly.
- MDL-43200 - Fixes to manual enrolment web services.
- MDL-32724 - LDAP fixes when updating user information.
- MDL-43804 - Move from r0, r1 css alternate styling to newer, widely supported, nth-* selectors.
- And lots more in themes, ajax, quiz, backup, accessibility, installation...
- To Justin Filip, for his continuous collaboration and help everywhere. His, always, cool mood and wise words are really welcome, thanks!
Ciao all, stronk7
13 February, 2014 11:45 PM
11 February, 2014
A while ago I wrote a blog about learning analytics from different perspectives giving examples of different analytics based tools that could benefit different users. Since then I’ve had discussions with numerous people, many of whom have great ideas for analytics tools, but I’ve discovered there is a disconnect between the analytics people want and their understanding of where to find the data.
To get from question to answer there needs to be an understanding of where the data are located and how they can be brought together. My intention with this blog is to show you where to find data for analytics in Moodle.
Source 1: Database tables
The database tables are used by Moodle and its plugins for data storage. They are able to be queried for information about users, and their involvement, as well as course and site information. I would estimate that more than half of the data needed for analytics are stored in these database tables.
The limitation of these data is that they are not historical – they represent the current state of the system. There is some historical data, for example Forum posts and Chat sessions, but for historical information generally you need logs or observers. One advantage of drawing from database tables rather than logs is that such data can be gathered in real-time, all the time, which is not advisable for log data (more on that later).
Here is a summary of the data in Moodle database tables. I’ve categorised the data by the perspectives relevant to analytics.
- name and profile fields
- site access (last login)
- course access (last access)
- Assignment submissions
- Blog entries
- Chat involvement
- Database activity entries
- Feedback responses
- Forum posts
- Glossary entries
- Lesson activity progress and answers
- Quiz answers
- Scorm progress and answers
- Survey answers
- Wiki writing contributions
- Workshop submissions and reviews
- involvement in add-on activities
|Grades and achievements
- course grades
- activity and course completion
- organisation within course and sections
- number and mix of activities and resources
- Question bank questions and types
- configuration and content of activities and resources
- course enrolments (roles)
- groups and groupings
- organisation of courses and categories
- file information
- “My home” page customisation
Examples of using database data
Here are some examples of how data in Moodle’s database tables could be used for learning analytics. It’s not a comprehensive list, but perhaps there are ideas here that could inspire some great analytics tools.
- Student involvement and achievement
- Accesses to enrolled courses
- Progress through course
- Relative success or risk of failure
- Opportunities for students to undertake activities or interact
- Teacher involvement
- Regularity of access to courses
- Timely interaction with students
- Timely grading
- Success of students in teacher’s courses
- Potential to assist students at risk or commend success
- Course quality
- Richness of content and activities
- Use of assessment
- Student-teacher ratios
Source 2: Logs, Events and Observers
Currently the logging of events in Moodle is undergoing change. Rather than referring to past implementations of logging, I’ll be more forward looking, referring to events and logging as used to some extent in Moodle 2.6 and used fully in Moodle 2.7. The new logs are richer and more focussed on educational activities.
From logs it is possible to extract information about events that have taken place. Here are some relevant aspects of events that are captured.
||The part of Moodle (module, block, core) in which the event took place
||What took place, based on a pre-defined list of verbs
||Whether the action was to create, read, update or delete
||Whether the action was teaching, participating or other (eg. administering)
||Who was responsible for the action and who they might have been affecting (eg. a teacher grading a student)
|Course and context
||Where it happened
||When it happened
Here is a list of verbs (action words) that are used with events currently. This set may grown.
accepted, added, answered, assessed, attempted, awarded, backedup, called, commented, completed, created, deleted, duplicated, evaluated, failed, graded, imported, loggedin/loggedout, loggedinas, locked, moved, passed, previewed, reassessed, reevaluated, submitted, suspended, switched, viewed, registered, removed, restored, reset, revealed, unlocked, upgraded, updated
One of the problems with logs is that they grow very large. This makes efficient searching and processing of log information almost impossible, particularly on larger sites. With richer event information being captured, there are also events being recorded from more places in Moodle. There is the potential to direct log information to log stores outside of the Moodle database. The intention of this change is to allow searching and processing of logs without impacting the performance of the Moodle server itself. There is also the potential to export log data to files for filtering and analysis outside Moodle. So it is possible to get detailed log information, but this cannot be used in real-time, say for a block or a report that combines logs with other information.
One way to capture event information so that it can be used in real-time is with observers. As each action takes place an event is “triggered” within Moodle and observers can “observe” events based on certain criteria. The new logging system is an event observer that consumes all events that are triggered and stores them (to one or more log storage plugins). It’s possible to create new observers that can focus on a subset of events, store relevant information so that it can later be presented efficiently. If you were interested in, say, creating a report that focussed on enrolment actions, you could allow the report to observe enrolment events, store records in its own table and then present the results to users appropriately, any time it was needed. The report could even make use of messages to send out alerts when necessary.
Examples using events and log data
- Monitoring site activity and focal points
- Number of user accesses, which could be used to infer time online
- Repeated exposure to resources and activities within courses
- Students accessing teacher feedback on activities
- Student retention in courses (based on enrolments and unenrolments)
Source 3: Click tracking by external monitors
Google Analytics for moodle.org
- their environment (browser, OS, device),
- where in the world they are coming from and
- the paths they are following through your site.
This information is useful to administrators wanting to ensure their Moodle site is catering to users’ needs. To discover learning analytics from Google Analytics, it is possible to drill down into usage information, This will not yield the same sort of information as the Moodle database or logs, instead showing patterns of behaviour. This information could potentially be fed back into Moodle as Google provides an API to query analytics data, which could be presented in a Moodle report or block.
Another relevant click-tracking tool is the Moodle Activity Viewer or MAV. This is a system in two parts: a server-side component that collects course activity usage statistics and a browser plugin that takes the page delivered from Moodle to your browser and overlays the page with colour to turn the course page into a heatmap. This shows teachers where the focus of activity in a course is taking place.
Could this understanding be built-in?
Unfortunately, at this stage, there are no simple generic mechanisms built into Moodle that allow you to freely gather and combine information without writing code. There are some exceptions attempting to allow generic report writing, but I don’t think these are simple enough for ordinary users yet. Currently, if you have specific questions that can’t be answered using standard Moodle reports, the best way to get the answers you want is by writing (or get a developer to write) a plugin (report or block). Hopefully this guide so far will provide an understanding of what data are available and where to find them.
Is there a possibility to create the reports without coding them from scratch?
One potential future step would be to allow plugins (and Moodle itself) to be able to describe the data they store. With this meta information, it could be possible to use a generic tool to gather and combine specified information on-the-fly and tweak the criteria as needed. This would allow access to the rich data in the Moodle database (with appropriate security constraints, of course).
It could also be possible to create a generic observer that can be configured on-the-fly to consume events of interest and record them. The current logging and events system APIs allow such alternative logging. Providing a sense of what events could be observed would be the challenge here, but at least events are now somewhat “self describing” meaning meta information is recorded with the coded description of the event objects.
For administrators interested in the sort of user information that Google Analytics reveals, it is possible in Moodle to determine a user’s browser, OS and device type. Moodle already does this to allow page customisation for different combinations of these factors. It would not be a great step to capture and present this information in a report. Google could probably do this better, but perhaps you’re not too keen to allow Google to snoop on your students and their learning activities. Moodle logs could be used to infer the paths and behaviour of students, but this would be a very costly exercise, requiring a great deal of computing power, preferably away from the Moodle server.
What to do with this data?
The final challenge then is to go beyond data gathering and analysis to provide tools that can use this information to support teaching; tools that help students learn, teachers teach and administrators to cover their butts. Only then will we see the LMS take education beyond what could be achieved in the classroom.
by Michael de Raadt at 11 February, 2014 04:45 AM
I recently read an article posted on TechnicianOnline titled “Moodle usage increases regardless of complaints” that really got me thinking. The article outlines the difficulties being faced by educators at NC State University as they come to grips with the use of the Moodle system. I strongly recommend before reading this blog post further that you read the article they posted in it’s entirety by clicking here.
I do not doubt that many educators reading this article will feel that this could just as easily be describing their own school/Uni/workplace. The points raise are ones we all hear often. But what if all of this could be avoided? Well..it can and it should!
Let’s start by lifting one specific quote.
“The problem with Moodle is that it has so many features that are complicated for the instructors to use. A lot of us don’t run our classes that way and don’t need all of those things . . . I would like to see them come up with a Moodle lite, or something like that.”
Bob Larson (communication lecturer)
Is this statement true? Resoundingly so. Moodle IS a complex tool with a wide range of features ranging in complexity.
Does it need to be so for the teacher? ABSOLUTELY NOT. The issue here is not Moodle itself, it is bad admin setup. But it is far easier to blame the tool and hence, here we are.
The aim of this post is to address just some of the techniques that can be implemented to make Moodle a far more pleasant experience.
What is the issue in a nutshell?
It is often said that Moodle’s strength, and weakness, is its range of features. Those numerous pages of options that confront every teacher the moment they turn editing on.
The strength of course is that all these settings allow us to customise the system and course to work exactly as we want. To allow us to delivery an online model of education that does not have to fit inside some pre-determined methodology but instead the work the way that we each intend.
The weakness is the confusion. Anyone who has set up a Quiz in Moodle will know what I am talking about here. Pages of options that while giving flexibility also create large amounts of complexity.
So why am I blaming Admin? Here is why. Moodle does not HAVE to be this complex. It is designed to be customised and shaped to fit the exact needs of the organisation. Why have a site full of features and settings your staff don’t need?
Implementing Simplicity (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Moodle)
Moodle provides numerous areas where Admins can enable/disable functionality as well as setting defaults. No organisation uses all the features. Why have them all on? The admin should customise the site to the needs of the organisation. How can we do this. Some examples are below:
- Invest in PD
Another contentious statement. What? Moodle is free you say? Hell no! N system is free. Even if you are not paying for the software you need to invest in support. Training. Don’t invest and expect no uptake! I don’t know any more about the PD program at NC State University other that what is in the article. I did however beam brightly when I read the following quote.
“We will come to a faculty member’s house and teach them exactly how to do whatever it is they personally need to be able to do on Moodle if they request it”
Martin Dulberg (senior coordinator)
I could go on, But in short, it is easy to blame a system for all your woes. Moodle IS complex. It IS detailed and it IS full of settings. But only as far as you want it to be. The trick for Moodle administrators is to find the right balance of design, training and settings to ensure that the system can work the best it can for their organisation. Be careful of going too far in the opposite direction though. I want to finish with this last quote form the article.
“The most we can do is try to make the best tools that we can, and it is up to the instructor to decide how they want to use it, if they want to use it. We can’t appeal to the lowest common denominator.”
Martin Dulberg (senior coordinator)
In particular that last sentence. If you build a system aimed at your lowest common denominator you are doing them and you a diss-service. Find the average pace in the organisation. Build for them while idealy providing upskilling for the lowest users and still providing effective tools for your power users. But in the end, remember we are NOT building for our lecturers/teachers. As contentious as this statement will be.
Moodle should be constructed for your learners, not your educators!
Are you an Admin and never thought about any of this before? That is why YOU should be the first to be up-skilled. How can YOU be responsible for a system YOU don’t understand? Don’t know how your educators are/should be using Moodle? Find out? Speak to them. Get involved in the process. My closing point is that being a Moodle administrator is NOT a purely technical role. It is just as heavily focused in understanding the pedagogy/andragogy of its intended application as much as the LDAP and security settings.
The post Don’t blame the tool, blame the setup appeared first on Moodleman Blog.
by moodleman at 11 February, 2014 01:28 AM
07 February, 2014
by Sam Hemelryk.
A total of 38 issues
have been integrated this week, 6 have been reopened, and 7 have been delayed. That is a 87% success ration, up on last week.
Delays this week were due to chained issues where a preceeding issue has been reopened, leaving the chain broken until the issue is fixed and looked at again next week.
The file lib/tests/code_test.php was removed this week, its purpose was to sanity check our code and as part of its process it checked certain conventions. Tim Hunt made a very good point that conventions can be very useful during development. For example DONOTCOMMIT, it can be easily added via macros or hotkeys within your IDE, and if you set up a git
commit hook to look for it you can prevent yourself from accidentally committing something you're not meant to.
David Mudrak has provided an example of how to handle create such a hook see the commit message
and I've created an example
myself to see how it works.
Warm thanks:Jamie Pratt
- MDL-38923 Clean theme now supports the dock in master. If you'd like to see this backported please vote on MDL-43995. Thanks Bas.
- MDL-39617 We have a new CLI script that is used to backup a single course. Thanks Ruslan.
- MDL-43592 We've now got a means of patching YUI when we need to without hitting caching issues.
- Several Quiz and question improvements from Jamie Pratt.
for his work on Quiz this week, and because we just couldn't get through all the great work he's put forward. Thanks Jamie. Thamie.
07 February, 2014 05:36 AM
05 February, 2014
They say it is good to walk a mile in some-one else’s shoes. Recently I’ve been involved in a requirements gathering exercise to provide new services for developers in our office. It has been an interesting and challenging experience which I thought would be worth reflecting upon.
One of the bits of my job which I enjoy the most is to gather user requirements and draw them together into a functional specification. Part of that process which I feel is important is to challenge where requirements or ways of working seem less than ideal. The introduction of a new, or improved, service is a perfect opportunity to improve business practices.
Funny how that doesn’t feel quite so nice when you’re on the recieving end.
So I wanted to reflect upon why I feel so tense about this, and how I can try to ensure that other projects where I’m gathering requirements don’t make my client feel bad.
Part of this is good interpersonal skills. It is important to really think about how you say things to get your message across and to actively listen to what’s being said. I did have a few other ideas. I’m not sure any of this is rocket-science though.
- Time: The project I’m working on is under considerable and increasing time pressure. It is however important to ensure there is enough time for the requirements analysis phase so all stakeholders feel consulted. Otherwise you risk the wrong solution. And rushed people tend to respond with hostility.
- Scope: Sometimes those odd practices are working round problems that exist elsewhere. If they can’t be addressed by the current project, then they simply have to be acknowledged and a best fit solution proposed. This isn’t any-one’s fault but tends to make people feel defensive, which isn’t a great working environment.
- Terminology: Sometimes there are phrases that you’d think both sides would understand in the same way so you assume clarity. It is worth sanity checking that, because it isn’t always true. Getting a clear understanding of what people mean can save problems in the long run.
- Meetings: Written communication tends to increase confusion. Nothing beats getting face-to-face to thrash out contentious areas quickly.
- Willingness to compromise: Like all clients, I think I’ve come to this feeling that I don’t want to change and that what we do is fine. That’s human nature, and its something that those challenging working practices and requirements need to bear in mind.
What do you think? What else makes for a good, collaborative working environment for project scoping and shaping that leaves every-one feeling valued and respected but makes changes for the common good?
by jennymgray at 05 February, 2014 11:39 AM
31 January, 2014
by Marina Glancy.
26 issues have been successfully integrated with 7 rejected. That is 79% success.
- If you use PhantomJS for behat tests please be aware of the new tag to exclude (details)
- MDL-25500 - Moodle now has a locking framework
- MDL-34055 - we now have a way to bulk insert through dml
- MDL-43761 - database installation performance improvements
- MDL-43040 - please upgrade your module version.php scripts to use $plugin instead of $module if they aren't already
31 January, 2014 07:39 AM
30 January, 2014
The submission deadline for the Moodle Research Conference (MRC2014) is approaching fast. I imagine many people around the world are feverishly preparing their submissions. Unlike most conferences, the MRC draws together people with different experience from many fields who happen to be conducting research in and around Moodle. Being one of the co-chairs for this year’s MRC, I thought I’d put together a guide to help authors.
Links to past research
As a researcher, you are never working alone. Basing your research on work that has come before gives you a solid foundation and increases the credibility of your work. Reviewers are not only judging your paper, they are looking at your knowledge of the field. Citing appropriate past research demonstrates your understanding and places your work within your research area. References should be formatted according to the prescribed standard and should provide enough detail to allow a reviewer to find the cited work. Cited works should be primarily from peer-reviewed sources. Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate a need for your current work based on past research.
After setting the paper within past research, you should then define the aim of your research and this is done with research questions. Such questions could be phrased as hypotheses, but this is not essential for an MRC paper. Your research questions can be used to define the structure of the remaining paper including the conclusions at the end of the paper, where the answers to these questions should be presented.
Without evidence a paper is simply opinion. In order to answer your research questions, you need to gather and analyse evidence. The evidence should answer the research questions, proving or disproving something – either outcome is valuable to report. The evidence you present could come from one (or more) of many sources such as experimental results, user data gathered in Moodle, surveys, case studies, etc. You should be able to show how the evidence you have gathered builds on the past research you have written about earlier in the paper. Even if your paper is focussed on the the development of a new tool (such as a Moodle add-on), you should go beyond a simple description, showing evidence that the tool works in practice and can have benefits.
A few more tips
- Writing quality and flow
- MRC papers must be written in English. Poor writing distracts reviewers from the important research work you are reporting. If English is not your first language (or even if it is) get someone else to proof read your paper before you submit it. Also consider the flow of your paper: each paragraph should follow on from the last and each section should lead into the next. You are arguing the value of your work and your argument should seem logical.
- Follow the template and use its styles
- The MRC, like most conferences, provides a template to demonstrate the expected paper format. Rather than copying the styles shown, use the template as the starting point for your submitted paper. Use the styles in the template rather than manipulating text to look like the styles. Doing this is easier and is something all word processor users should be able to do. It also ensures all papers in the final proceedings are consistent. If your paper appears different, reviewers will feel responsible to point this out and that will detract from the review. Look through the Moodle Research Library for examples of accepted papers from past MRC conferences.
- Anonymise your work properly
- The MRC uses double-blind peer review, so authors don’t know who is reviewing their work and reviewers don’t know who has authored the paper they are reviewing. If the reviewer sees you’ve done a poor job anonymising your paper, that may impact their review. See the guide to submitting papers for things to check when anonymising your document.
- Present data visually
- A picture is worth a thousand words. Presenting data as a table or chart makes it easier for readers to understand. Screen captures are a great way to show tools in use. All tables and figures should be labelled and there should be a reference to these items within the text to include them at appropriate points in the flow of the document.
- MRC2014 site
- MRC2014 Call for Papers
- Moodle Research site
- Guide to submitting papers
- Moodle Research Library
- Simon, Carbone, A., de Raadt, M., Lister, R., Hamilton, M., & Sheard, J. (2008): Classifying Computing Education Papers: Process and Results. Proceedings of the International Computing Education Research Conference (ICER2008), Sydney, Australia, 6-7 September, 2008. 161 – 171.
- Simon, Sheard, J., Carbone, A., de Raadt, M., Hamilton, M., Lister, R., et al. (2008): Eight years of computing education papers at NACCQ. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications (NACCQ 2008), Auckland, New Zealand, 4-7 July 2008. 101 – 107.
by Michael de Raadt at 30 January, 2014 03:23 AM
29 January, 2014
I spent today upgrading our Moodle codebase from Moodle 2.5.4 to Moodle 2.6.1. This is the start of work towards our June release of the VLE. We have a March release based on Moodle 2.5.4 to get on the live servers first, and testing that will overlap with the development of the 2.6.1-based version.
Doing the merge
The first stage of the process is to merge in the new code. This is non-trivial because even if you just do
git checkout -b temp v2.5.4
git merge v2.6.1
Then you will get a lot of merge conflicts. That is a product of how the Moodle project manages its stable branches. If your own code changes also lead to other merge conflicts, then sorting out the two is a real mess.
Fortunately, there is a better way, because we know how we want to resolve any conflicts between 2.5.4 and 2.6.1. We want to end up with 2.6.1. Using git merge strategies, you can do that:
git checkout -b merge_helper_branch v2.6.1
git merge --strategy=ours v2.5.4
That gives you a commit that is upstream of both v2.5.4 and v2.6.1, and which contains code that is identical to v2.6.1. You can verify that using git diff v2.6.1 merge_helper_branch. That should produce no output.
Having built that helper branch, you can then proceed to upgrade your version of the code. Our version of Moodle lives on a branch called ouvle which we originally branched off Moodle 2.1.2 in October 2011. Since then, we have made lots of changes, including adding many custom plugins, and merging in many Moodle releases. Continuting from the above we do
git checkout ouvle
git merge --strategy-option=patience merge_helper_branch
That gave a lot of merge conflicts, but they were all to do with our changes. Most of them were due to MDL-38189, which sam marshall developed for Moodle 2.6, and which we had back-ported into our 2.5 code. That back-port made a big mess, but fortunately most of the files affected did not have any other ou-specific changes, so I could just overwrite them with the latest versions from v2.6.1.
git checkout --theirs lang/en backup lib/filestorage admin/settings/development.php lib/form/form.js
git add lang/en backup lib/filestorage admin/settings/development.php lib/form/form.js
Simiarly, we had backported MDL-35053 which lead to more conflicts that were easy to resolve. Another case was the Single activity course format which we had used as an add-on to Moodle 2.5. That is now part of the standard Moodle release. The change caused merge conflits, but again there was a simple solution: take the latest from 2.6.1.
After all that, there were only about 5 files that needed more detailed attention. They were mostly where a change had been made to standard Moodle code right next to a place where we had made a change. (Silly rules about full stops at the ends of comments!) They were easily to fix manually. The one tricky file was in lib/moodlelib.php where about 400 lines of code had been moved lib/classes/useragent.php. There were two ou-specific changes in the middle of that, which I had to re-do in the new version of that code.
Verifying the merge
Having resolved all the conflicts, it was then time to try to convince myself that I had not screwed anything up. The main check was to comparing our ouvle code with the standard 2.6.1 code. Just doing git diff v2.6.1 ouvle does not work well because it shows all contents of all the new files we have added. You need to read the git documentation and work out the incantation
git diff --patience --diff-filter=CDMRTUXB v2.6.1 ouvle
That tells git to just show changes to existing files - the ones that are part of standard Moodle 2.6.1. That is a manageable amount of output to review. We have a strict policy that any change to core Moodle code is marked up like this:
// ou-specific begins #2381 MDL-28567
$select = new single_select(new moodle_url(CALENDAR_URL.'set.php',
array('return' => base64_encode($returnurl->out(false)),
'var' => 'setcourse', 'sesskey'=>sesskey())),
'id', $courseoptions, $selected, null);
$select = new single_select(new moodle_url(CALENDAR_URL.'view.php',
array('return' => $returnurl, 'view' => 'month')),
'course', $courseoptions, $selected, null);
// ou-specific ends #2381 MDL-28567
That is, the original Moodle code is still there, but commented out, alongside our modified version, and the whole thing is wrapped in paired begin and end markers that refer to a ticket id in our issues database and if applicable a Moodle tracker issue. In this case I can check that MDL-28567 has still not been resolved, so we still need this ou-specific change. What I am doing looking at the diff output is verifying that every change is marked up like that, and that any issues mentioned are things that are still relevant.
The other check is to search the whole codebase for ou-specific and again review all the issue numbers mentioned. These combined checks find a few ou-specific changes that are no longer needed, which is a good thing.
What happens next
Now that I think the code seems right, it is time to test it, so I upgrade my development install. It mostly works, except that our custom memcache session handler no longer works (the session code seems to have changed a lot, including an official memcached session hander in core). For now I just switch back to default Moodle sessions, and make a note to investigate this later.
Apart from that, the upgrade goes smootly, and, apart from thousands of debugging warnings about use of deprecated code, I have a working Moodle site, so I push the code to our git server, and warn the rest of the team that they can upgrade if they feel brave.
The next thing, which will take place over the next few weeks is to check every single one of our custom plugins to verify that it still works properly in Moodle 2.6. To manage that we use a Google Docs spreadsheet that we can all edit that lists all the add-ons, with who is going to be responsible for checking it, and whether they have done so yet. Here is a small section.
The state of OU Moodle customisation
Our regular code-merges are a good moment to take stock of the extend to which we have customised Moodle. Here are some headline numbers:
- 212 custom plug-ins: Of those 10 are ones we have taken from the community, including Questionnaire, Certificate, Code-checker and STACK (we helped create those last two). Of our own plugins, 58 (over a quarter) are shared with the community, though the counting is odd because ForumNG contains 20 sub-plugins.
- 17 ou-specific issues: That is, reasons we made a change to core code that could not be an add-on.
- Due to those 17 reasons, there are 42 pairs of // ou-specific begins/ends comments in the code.
So, we continue to be disciplined about not changing core code unless we really have to, but the number of plugins is getting a bit crazy. A lot of the plugins, are, however, very small. They just do one thing. Also, we run a range of very different sites, including OpenLearn, OpenLearn works, The Open Science Lab and our exams server. A significant number of our plugisn were just designed to be used on one of those sites.
Here are the numbers of custom plugins broken down by type (and ignoring sub-plugins of our custom plugins).
|Quiz access rules||2|
by Tim Hunt (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 29 January, 2014 07:35 PM
27 January, 2014
This is the first of a three-part review about Iomad – a business and corporate focused enhancement to Moodle. Normally I follow a set pattern in doing reviews, but as this is so much more than just one add-on, I am breaking with that tradition.
But first for some context.
Many corporates use Moodle in many different ways. Some use it as training platform where training courses are uploaded and delivered to their staff for certification and ongoing continual professional development. Others use it as a social learning platform where the courses are more focused on sharing and collaboration. Many use it as a hybrid of these reasons and other reasons completely.
The reasons why they use Moodle can differ as well; some use it because of the flexibility, some use because it is open source and can be readily customised to do exactly what they need; some use it because it is license free and so a cost-effective solution where you may want to start off small and scale; other use it because it has the specific features they need and some use it because it is what they know.
Obviously there are other reasons but I am just trying to set the scope of diversity in how and why organisations use Moodle.
However, most organisations; be it academic or corporates often want to use Moodle beyond the course management system it excels at, with more learning management features such as
- High level reporting; curriculum-wide reporting, company wide reporting, hierarchical reports, unit based reporting and so on
- Advanced user structures: user hierarchical groups based on the organisation’s needs – be it different business units, national groupings or even in academic sectors of faculties and schools.
There has always been a number of ways of approaching these type of requirements, by adding extra products alongside Moodle, or adding plugins or even using enterprise solutions that were developed – such as Remote-Learners ELIS and Totara.
I have used all three, and found each to have some unique features that made them worth investigating. I have reviewed ELIS on this blog before, and was waiting until Totara was fully openly available to download to do so. Totara was recently made available on Github and so it is on my list to review in more detail at some point.
However something new came under my sights this last week, and so having played with it I thought I would put together this review. It is called Iomad, and it was developed and released by the Scottish Moodle Partner E-Learn Design
When approaching any of these enterprise systems, I have always had a specific type of test in mind and that is:
- set up a test company structure of a few departments
- allocate users in the various levels of the company
- allocate users to a learning track / courses
- complete some courses
- view reports available at each level where possible.
So my review will follow this format.
The test cycle
The fictional company I will test with is a simple one. It is a Company with 4 departments: Sales, HR, Development and Support. Each of these has a manager and 2 staff members.
I should note that Iomad has some very useful features that I will cover in part 2 of this review in the coming week they are:
- Training Event activity
- License management
Iomad is a full installation of Moodle and itself. It is more than plugins as the site explains “there are a few changes to core”. Normally I prefer to just review standalone plugins, but enterprise extensions are not that simple – the problems they solve are not simple either.
So to have a play you can either install from the Github account https://github.com/iomad/iomad , or you can just use the demo site. The site auto-refreshes every 90 minutes so if you are going to play I suggest you try just after one of the resets so you have enough time to go through the different features. The demo site is at http://demo.iomad.org.
Installing Iomad from github was as simple as installing Moodle. The Iomad site has an installation quick start installation guide for those who are unfamiliar. http://www.iomad.org/installation-quick-start-2/
Creating a Company
Once installed, as admin you are able to access the Iomad dashboard. You are immediately prompted to create a new company. Apart from giving it a new you can set user defaults for all staff that are created under the company and you can also specify if it should have its own appearance info such as a theme and logo – which I guess is very useful for the multi-tenancy usage.
Iomad Add Company
The Iomad dashboard shows you different options depending on your role. As a Moodle admin I could see more than a company admin, who sees more options than a manager, and so on. The dashboard is both an extension of the Moodle Administration block and an actual dashboard page.
Iomad Admin Tree
Iomad dashboard for an admin
The Dashboard breaks the system down into a number of sections:
- Company management
- User management
- course management
- license management
Below this is the Iomad reports section which offers links to
- Attendance report by course
- Users Report
- Iomad SCORM overview report
- Completion report by course
- Iomad Company Overview Report
All these options were also available in the administration block tree for Iomad for easy access. I would however have liked to have this at the top of the administration block rather than the bottom.
So back to the review.
Adding Company Departments
Once logged in as the full admin, I got access to the dashboard.
Company Management has the following options:
- Edit Company
- Create Company
- Manage Departments
- Assign Department users
- Optional profiles
- Assign Users
- Assign Courses
- Email Templates
Adding the four departments was very straight forward.
Iomad Add Department
Each department has a long and short name. So adding them in took less than a minute.
Next onto the staff
Adding the staff into the system
User Management has the following options:
- Create user
- Edit users
- Upload users
- User bulk download
- Bulk user actions
Creating the users in the interface is straight forward. You specific the name, email, password and can allocate the user a role in the company. You could also assign them to a course (which I have none created yet so skipping that for now).
Iomad Add User
After creating one user in the interface, I chose the upload users approach and added in some users with a spreadsheet. This was the same easy process as standard Moodle, however with just a few options: Adding the file, CSV delimiter, Encoding, Preview rows and Upload type.
Once previewing the user upload you could also select some other options including which department to add the users to and which courses to enrol the users into.
Once added, now came the third task: allocate users to a learning track / courses. This is handled under the Course Management. However with no courses set up I had to do this first.
Course Management has the following options:
- Assign to company
- User Enrolments
- Create course
- Manage Iomad course settings
- Teaching locations
Before I can enrol users I had to create a few test courses first but that was quick – there is a simple form for creating the empty course with just Course full name, short name, summary and enrolment method (self-enrolment or manager enrolling the users).
Iomad Create Course
Adding users to courses
Once I created the courses, enrolling users onto them was as expect straight forward.
The common theme so far is simplicity and just the options needed to do the task and no more. So the page for enrolling users has the department to filter the users shown, a choice of what course to enrol users to, and a user select box.
Iomad Enrol Users
So you can either enrol a whole department to a course, or just select which users.
That task over it was down to logging in as some of the end users and finishing a course or two.
For speed, I turned on self-completion for the courses, and added the self-completion block so that the learner can click to complete the course.
Course Self Complete
So once a user had completed some courses, I went to look at the reports.
The first report I wanted to look at was the Completion report by course. This provides an overview of the courses in the company and how many users are enrolled, how many are not started, still in progress and how many are completed as below.
Iomad Coure Completion Report
With the filter you can see the whole company or just a department.
The completion report by user allows you to select a user from the company or filter by department and then view their report.
Iomad User Completion Report
There are other reports for SCORM tracking, Attendance tracking and an overview on the company staff and the total number of users and total number of courses.
End of Part 1.
This review has covered the basics of what a company will do when they start on the system, structure setup, user set up and enrolment and also some of the reports.Throughout the review I have found the system to be simple to use. The options were just enough to do what was needed and no more which mean that the screens did not have extra options which could confuse. I will give my full thoughts on the system at the end of part 2.
The next part in this review will cover the different roles in the system, training event activity, Multi-tenancy, E-commerce and the course license management.
by ghenrick at 27 January, 2014 08:20 AM
24 January, 2014
by Dan Poltawski.
45 issues have been successfully integrated with 13 rejected. That is 78% success.
- This week we welcomed Rajesh Taneja to the iTeam, helping us on our testing effort! Welcome Raj, great to have you on board!
- We gave an update at the General Developer Meeting on Tuesday - the recording is now available for your viewing plesaure!
- CiBot has transitioned off its baby food of SHA1 hashes and now is eating branches whole
There are currently 24 issues waiting for peer review - its clear we're falling behind there. Please help a fellow developer by reviewing their changes!
- MDL-26680 - MyMoodle reset to default button
- MDL-41688 - Gradebook improvements in bootstrap based themes
- MDL-32523 - Ability to duplicate questions in the question bank
- To Martín Langhoff, returning to the Moodle moodle community after a honeymoon in OLPC. Welcome back, we look forward to rejecting your patches soon.
24 January, 2014 02:41 AM
17 January, 2014
by Eloy Lafuente (stronk7).
48 issues have been successfully integrated with 7 rejected and 0 delayed. That is 87% success, well done!
- After releasing some minor versions this week, here we go, a full-two-months-period where, apart from bug-fixing, everybody will be pushing hard in the construction of Moodle 2.7 (coming in May!).
- Don't forget the next online Developer Meeting, sure it's plenty of exciting stuff.
- Meet CiBoT. You will love (or hate) it. Feelings will grow exponentially along the next weeks. Guaranteed!
- MDL-33952 - The new assignment module, able to restore instances of the old one.
- MDL-40705 - Clean theme navigation menu fixes.
- MDL-43524 - Old DB text caching dropped (2.7 and upwards).
- MDL-43439 - Option to take screenshots on acceptance tests failures.
- And lots more in themes, ajax, scorm, gradebook, asignment, logging...
- To Petr Škoda, Andrew Nicols and Mark Nelson for being the current top peer-reviewers. Many thanks for all your reviews. They are really important in the process.
Ciao all, stronk7
PS: Yay, I did introduce the year (2014) correctly in my post. First time ever!
17 January, 2014 12:29 AM
14 January, 2014
Turnitin have been working on a new back-end API to improve the way integrations are able to access the Turnitin product range – they have also developed new plugins for Moodle using this new API including a replacement for my plugin. The new code supports the full range of Turnitin products (my plugin was only focused on their plagiarism/originality checking service) and the new API will hopefully also improve reliability and stability. Turnitin asked me to review their initial code and were very receptive to my feedback – the new code follows Moodle coding guidelines and looks like a good replacement for my plugin.
The code isn’t available in the Moodle Plugins db yet but it is available in github here:
I have a few clients starting to test the new plugin this week – all going well I plan to stop further development on my old plugin – my plugin still works in Moodle 2.6 but at this stage I don’t have plans to maintain support for it past Moodle 2.6 and I recommend everyone starts to look at the new plugin from Turnitin.
by dan at 14 January, 2014 10:20 PM
13 January, 2014
Moodle.org announced that the latest minor versions of Moodle are now available.
Moodle 2.6.1, 2.5.4, 2.4.8 and 2.3.11 are available to download (see http://download.moodle.org or Git (see docs)).
As usual the releases include a number of bug fixes and small improvements.
There are also some security vulnerabilities that have been discovered and fixed so it is a good idea to upgrade your sites to these latest versions to implement these fixes.
by ghenrick at 13 January, 2014 07:10 PM
10 January, 2014
by Damyon Wiese.
65 issues were accepted, 12 issues this week didn't quite make it (and 6 we didn't get time to look at). Thats 84%.
Interesting happenings from this weeks run:
MDL-18770 - Non-graded Assignment and Quizzes appear in the gradebook and have Max Grade assigned
MDL-40551 - Support fully deleting badges
MDL-42585 - Refine capabilities that permit user to see assignments and the user feedbacks without ability to grade
This week goes to Shamim Rezaie for visiting us in Perth! Shamim is from Iran and has been contributing to Moodle support for multiple calendar types.
10 January, 2014 07:50 AM
09 January, 2014
We are delighted to announce a new award to be ran in conjunction with the Moodlemoot Edinburgh – Moodler of the Year 2014.
The purpose is to celebrate and reward excellent teaching practice in the use of Moodle in learning and assessment delivery. The award is open to individuals and teams based anywhere in Europe who are coming to the Moodlemoot in Edinburgh.
The award will be judged by a panel chaired by the Moot Chair – Dr Keith Smyth of Edinburgh Napier University.
Winners will be presented with the award and the prizes at the Gala Dinner at the Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014 on the evening of April 15th.
Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places as decided by the panel.
A person, or a team may put forward a Moodle based learning project they have completed in their organisation in the past year of the submission date.
For full details on the award and the details of how to enter check the Moodlemoot site
by ghenrick at 09 January, 2014 07:47 AM
24 December, 2013
by Sam Hemelryk.
Cold numbers:13 issues
were integrated this week, with 4 issues being reopened. A successrate of only 76% this week, however being that it was a short week we were a little tougher than usual.
- MDL-34182 - fixes to help us (or really you) avoid issues when serving content for AJAX requests.
- MDL-41788 - custom menu language drop down breakages have been fixed.
- Several more JS improvements have landed this week thanks to Andrew N
- Several more assignment fixes have landed this week as well, thank you to Damyon and friends.
A big thank you to 2013, as this will likely be our last integration this year. Its had its up and downs but we've got there in the end. A big thank you to all those who have helped out over the past 12 months.
24 December, 2013 05:23 AM
20 December, 2013
Early bird Registration
Moodlemoot Edinburgh has extended the early bird registration until the middle of January (Jan 17th 2014). This means you still have another month to get the early bird pricing.
They also announced the Pre-Conference Workshops which take on the Monday 14th of April, so have a read of them below and see if anything peeks your interest.
The Pre-Conference Workshop List is broken into different strands:
- Badge / Gamification Strand
- Moodle Quiz Strand
- Moodle Developer Strand
- Teaching with Moodle Strand
- Extending Moodle for teaching Strand
Registered users will be added to the Moodle site for the Moot where they will be able to select which workshops they want to attend. They will also be able to select their session preference when the full programme is announced closer to the date.
Badge / Gamification Strand
Open Badges Strategy (1/2 day)
Facilitator: Carla Casilli, Director (Badge System Design + Implementation, Mozilla Foundation) and Grainne Hamilton (Advisor: e-Assessment, Jisc RSC Scotland)
Open Badges are digital credentials that earners can display anywhere on the web. They are underpinned by an open accreditation infrastructure developed by Mozilla, which enables the issuing of Open Badges to recognise achievement and attributes that may not be picked up in formal qualifications.
The Designing Open Badge Systems workshop will focus on effective Open Badge system development, introducing Mozilla and Jisc tools to support badge system design and a strategic approach to implementing Open Badges in a formal education context.
In the first session, we explore the Open Badges Infrastructure developed by Mozilla and consider the rationale for issuing Open Badges
Session 1 (1.5 hours) – Open Badges 101
- What are Open Badges?
- How are they being used?
- Why issue Open Badges? What do you want to issue badges for?
- Issuing badges in Moodle – what do you need to consider?
Session 2 (1.5 hours) – Designing Open Badges systems to use in Moodle
- Explore Open Badge system design tools
- Develop the value proposition of an Open Badge and behaviours you want to encourage
- Create the criteria and consider evidence for an Open Badge
- Consider related badges
- Consider badge brand
Practical Gamification of Moodle Courses (1/2 day)
Facilitator: Gavin Henrick(Learning Technology Services) , 2nd to be confirmed
This workshop will look gamification and the various techniques that are available to Moodle course developers to gamify their course. Participants will be taken through the range of techniques
Session 1 (1.5 hours) – Gamification 101
- What is Gamification?
- How is it used?
- Why use Gamification in E-learning?
- Examples of Moodle with Gamification
- An example Moodle course
Session 2 (1.5 hours) – Applying Gamification to Moodle
- The Moodle Gamification Toolkit
- Techniques you can use in Moodle by default
- Plugins that help gamification
- What next?
Moodle Quiz strand
Creating high-quality computer-marked assessment in Moodle (full day)
Facilitator: Tim Hunt, Open University, 2nd to be confirmed
In the morning, we explore what can be done with the features that are available in the standard Moodle package.
Session 1 (1.5 hours) – Creating a quiz
- * What do we mean by high-quality assessment?
- * How much can be automatically marked by computer?
- * Take “An interactive tour of the Moodle Quiz”
- * Create your first quiz
Session 2 (1.5 hours) – Creating questions – standard Moodle types
- * What make a good question?
- * Create a Multiple choice question
- * Create a Short-answer question
- * Create a numerical question
- * Update your quiz
In the afternoon, we explore the possibilities opened up by the Open University’s question type add-ons.
Session 3 (1.5 hours) – Creating drag-and-drop questions
- * Authenticity in assessment: what other question types do we need?
- * Creating different types of drag-and-drop questions.
Session 4 (1.5 hours) – Advanced question types
Each participant may choose one of
- - Creating pattern-match questions to automatically grade sentences.
- - Creating variable numeric questions to grade numbers and units.
- - Creating STACK questions, to assess mathematics.
Moodle 2 development Strand
Developing Moodle features ( full day)
Facilitator: Howard Miller (Lead Developer, E-Learn Design), Derick Turner(Director, E-Learn Design)
** Each session builds upon the previous session. Continued attendance at all sessions is preferred. **
This workshop is aimed at developers who already have done some minor Moodle changes and who understand how to set up the Moodle environment for testing. It will take attendees through developing a number of enhancements to Moodle. We will be working on Moodle 2.6 and participants will require their own development environment on their local machine or somewhere that they control remotely.
- Session 1 – Basic “hello world” type report creating plugin structures and default requirements and linking into the Moodle menus.
- Session 2 – Creation of the library functions which the report will use to obtain and process the data
- Session 3 – Form creation to handle sorting and searching which is then used to drive the gathering of data.
- Session 4 – Outputting the data onto the screen and handling output to various file formats for downloading.
At the end of the session the finished code will be made available.
Teaching with Moodle Strand
Moodle Masterclass for teachers ( full day)
Facilitator: Deneka MacDonald (Director/Lead Instructional Designer, E-Learn Design),
A closer look at Book, Glossary, Lesson and Creative Formative Assessment
*** The first 2 sessions are distinct sessions with clear objectives for each. Sessions 3 and 4 build upon one another and attendance at both is required/recommended. **
- Session 1: Book: Explore creative ways to use the Book Module in Moodle to add value to your courses.
- Session 2: Glossary: Explore various ways in which the Glossary Module can add value to your courses.
- Session 3: Lessons: Bring along your content to this introductory session and begin to plan your advanced path based Lesson for your students.
- Session 4: Lessons: Building upon the previous session, we will continue to explore path based lessons, adding question clusters as well as illustrating how multi-media and formative learning can enhance the user experience. Users will leave with a practical finished Lesson at the end.
Extending Moodle for Teaching Strand
Moodle Add-ons – the building blocks of Moodle. (1/2 day)
Facilitator: Gavin Henrick (Learning Technology Services), Michael de Raadt (Development Manager, Moodle HQ)
This workshop is for course creators and administrators although developers will be let in too!
Now there are literally hundreds of plugins available for the Moodle admin to include in their installation should they need to do so. This workshop will provide an overview of community and commercial add-ons for Moodle and it will look at installing plugins, testing plugins, managing plugins and also upgrading plugins.
- Participants will be brought through installing and testing many different types of plugins.
- Participants will then be grouped and asked to address governance, responsibility and management of plugins in an organisation.
- Participants groups will be given various tasks to complete related to researching plugins, testing them against a defined set of criteria.
- Participants will be challenged to come up with some requirements for new plugins that support pedagogy rather than an administrative function.
- Participants will co-create some content on the topic.
IMS LTI – Extending Moodle for teaching (1/2 day)
Facilitator:Simon Booth (University of Stirling), Stephen Vickers (IMS Global)
This half day workshop will provide you with hands-on experience of how Moodle can be extended using external LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) tools. Even if you think you know all about LTI, we hope there will be something new for you to learn. For example, in the past year there have been proposed extensions for embedding content items, discoverable LTI services, accessing data for learning analytics. So, come along and find out more.
The topics we could cover are:
- What LTI is and what benefits it can provide for teaching
- How to use the core functionality available within Moodle to configure and enable LTI tools
- How to find tools which support LTI
- What to consider when evaluating LTI Tools
- The latest releases of LTI (1.2 and 2.0)
- The current roadmap for LTI
by ghenrick at 20 December, 2013 12:53 PM
by Damyon Wiese.
40 issues were accepted, 7 issues this week didn't quite make it. Thats 85%.
- We will aim for a Tuesday release next week ahead of the Moodle HQ shutdown
- Changes were introduced last week to add behat compatibility with phantomjs - a headless webkit browser that runs much faster. There are a couple of caveats, but I like it alot!
- Martin posted about prototypes for new features in Moodle 2.7. This a great chance to have input into the direction of Moodle. Please try out the prototypes and fill out the surveys.
Interesting happenings from this weeks run:
MDL-43326 - Cannot start a new attempt in Assignment (based on previous one)
MDL-34432 - Assignment -teachers can no longer comment inline on online text
MDL-42965 - Badge cron code is very inefficient and holds up cron
MDL-42931 - Decide Moodle 2.7 requirements and push them to environment.xml
This week goes to everyone how has already (or will soon) try out the prototypes and give us feedback.
20 December, 2013 07:34 AM
13 December, 2013
by Sam Hemelryk.
49 issues made it safetly in, only 2 issues this week didn't quite make it. Nothing was delayed. Thats a very impressive 96% rate.
- Christmas is nearly here, as we all enjoy the celebrations as much as you HQ will be closed from Wednesday 25th through Wednesday 1st.
- As you're planning your new features for Moodle 2.7 don't forget to think about phpunit and behat tests to accompany them, it'd make us extra happy.
Interesting happenings from this weeks run:
- MDL-42625 Hardcoded behat waits have been removed, tests should be feeling faster.
- MDL-40058 The add_to_log conversion continues on, wiki was completed this week.
- MDL-42932 Calendar types can now be set at a site level.
- MDL-35024 Numerous functions deprecated in 2.0 were removed.
- Several JS blocks we converted to modules built by shifter.
This week goes to Jason Fowler who peer-reviewed 11 of the 49 issues that were made it through integration this week. Big thanks Jason helping to keep the development ball rolling.
13 December, 2013 05:50 AM
05 December, 2013
by Dan Poltawski.
59 issues have been successfully integrated with 8 rejected and 1 delayed. That is 86% success.
- This week we started to accept improvements and new features into master to become Moodle 2.7.
- We'd like to remind developers about our policy on backporting. Particularly we ask that backporting is not forgotten. At this time we are supporting 2.4.x, 2.5.x, 2.6.x and 2.7dev for general bugfixes. From January 2.4.x will enter into security-only bugfixing, but until this time we require fixes are supplies for 2.4.x too.
- The frontend team at Moodle HQ are coming to the end of their initial planning stage for the 2.7 release and we're eagerly awaiting the publication of future plans to the community!
There are currently 27 issues waiting for peer review - its clear we're falling behind there. Please remember peer reviews if ever you can.
- MDL-32888 - Search/filtering added to the gradebook
- MDL-40191 - Switching role to student when viewing a hidden resource produces 'Coding error detected...' error
- MDL-42597 - New maintenance mode countdown improvements
- MDL-33618 - A way to hide messages that were configured to never be sent
- To Simon Coggins, for tackling some important work, collaborating and helping on the forums - thanks!
05 December, 2013 09:27 AM
04 December, 2013
A bit slow adding this here, but the registrations for the Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014 are now open. This is the announcement from the Moot site:
We are delighted to announce that registrations are now open for the upcoming Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014, being held on April 14-16 in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University.
Reserve your place at the Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014 and join hundreds of Moodlers from around the world for fun days of learning, networking and development.
Registration provides access to the panels, workshops, presentations, keynote addresses, meals (Coffee breaks and lunch) for each day that you are registered.
All registration options also include the Gala Dinner held on the Tuesday evening at the Our Dynamic Earth venue in Edinburgh.
There are a number of ticket options available for the Moodlemoot – all options include attendance at the Gala Dinner on April 15th 2014.
For on-line payment with Credit Cards visit http://moodlemoot-edinburgh.exordo.com/
Invoice registration is available for institutions and organisations.
Please contact us with your organisation details, (name, address, VAT number) and Full names & emails of those attending and we will draw up the invoice. Registration is confirmed upon receipt of payment.
Marketing Edinburgh have offer their accommodation booking service to delegates attending the Moodlemoot.
They specially negotiated rates at a selection of hotels/apartments throughout the city these cover two, three and four stars.
We will be running coaches to the Moodlemoot venue from outside the Roxburghe and also near one of the main hotels at the Royal Mile to the venue at 8:30 am on the Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and heading back afterwards, so the accommodation options are all within walking distance of the planned pickup points. We will finalise the pickup points once we have the list of bookings that people have made.
On completion of the booking process you will receive an email confirmation to the email address you have provided. You will also be provided with a password which will be required if you wish to make changes to your personal details or change your reservation online.
Please note that the main Hotel venue for Monday welcome drinks, and Hackfest on the Thursday and Moodlemoot Office is the The Roxburghe which you can also book through this service.
Click here to see accommodation options
by ghenrick at 04 December, 2013 08:23 AM
03 December, 2013
I was asked by a teacher of software development if I could give an overview of how we use the Scrum Framework in a real-world, open source project, here at Moodle. Being a former development teacher myself, I could not refuse.
The video below outlines the Agile software development processes followed at Moodle HQ. If you’re a developer or someone training to be a developer, this will be relevant to you.
Forgive my ums and ahs. It’s been a while since I was in teacher-mode.
by Michael de Raadt at 03 December, 2013 01:41 AM
29 November, 2013
by Dan Poltawski.
28 issues have been successfully integrated with 3 rejected. That is 90% success, hurrah!
- This integration round brings to an end our on-sync period and we will begin accepting changes in master for 2.7 next week!
- Over the last few days the integration team having our regular debrief meeting following the 2.6 release. We discussed how the release went, our internal processes, how to improve our work with developers, improve testing & quality of releases. We will spread the outcome of these discusisions over the next few weeks. We always have new things to learn and ways to improve and welcome contructive feedback about our work, so if you have suggestions on how we can improve, please do let us know!
There are currently 17 issues waiting for peer review in areas such as SCORM, grades, CSS and forms. Please help review there if you can.
- MDL-42992 - SCORM window cannot be resized in IE 9
- MDL-37016 - Problems upgrading to 2.4+ with MySQL sites
- MDL-40741 - Behat acceptance tests updated to be less theme-dependent
- MDL-42985 - The curl rule proxybypass is never applied
- MDL-42508 - Module generators for scorm, imscp and folder
- To Barbara Ramiro, our in-house designer working hard to help us make Moodle friendlier, prettier and more elegant, one step at a time. Thanks!
29 November, 2013 07:24 AM
28 November, 2013
There are lots of ways you can think about bug-fixing: it is just a job that developers do; it is problem solving; etc. Here I want to take one particular viewpoint, that it is generating new knowledge about a software system.
One was to think about software is that it is the embodiment of a set of requirements, of how something should work. For example, Moodle can be thought of as a lot of knowledge about what software is required to teach online, and how that software should be designed. Finding and fixing bugs increases that pool of knowledge by identifying errors or omissions and then correcting them.
The bug fixing process
We can break down the process of discovering and fixing a bug into the following steps. This is really trying to break the process down as finely as possible. As you read this list, please think about what new knowledge is generated during each step.
- Something's wrong: We start from a state of blissful ignorance. We think our software works exactly as it should, and then some blighter comes along and tells us "Did you know that sometimes ... happens?" Not what you want to hear, but just knowing that there is a problem is vital. In fact the key moment is not when we are told about the problem, but when the user encountered it. Good users report the problems they encounter with an appropriate amount of detail
- Steps to reproduce: Knowing the problem exists is vital, but not a great place to start investigating. What you need to know is something like "Using Internet Explorer 9, if you are logged in as a student, are on this page, and then click that link then on the next page press that button, then you get this error." and that all the details there are relevant. This is called steps to reproduce. For some bugs they are trivial. For bugs that initially appear to be random, identifying the critical factors can be a major undertaking.
- Which code is broken: Once the developer can reliably trigger the bug, then it is possible to investigate. The first thing to work out is which bit of code is failing. That is, which lines in which file.
- What is going wrong: As well as locating the problem code, you also have to understand why it is misbehaving. Is it making some assumption that is not true? Is it misusing another bit of code? Is it mishandling certain unusual input values? ...
- How should it be fixed: Once the problem is understood, then you can plan the general approach to solving it. This may be obvious given the problem, but in some cases there is a choice of different ways you could fix it, and the best approach must be selected.
- Fix the code: Once you know how you will fix the bug, you need to write the specific code that embodies that fix. This is probably the bit that most people think of when you say bug-fixing, but it is just a tiny part.
- No unintended consequences: This could well be the hardest step. You have made a change which fixed the specific symptoms that were reported, but have you changed anything else? Sometimes a bug fix in one place will break other things, which must be avoided. This is a place where peer review, getting another developer to look at your proposed changes, is most likely to spot something you missed.
- How to test this change: Given the changes you made, what should be done to verify that the issue is fixed, and that nothing else has broken? You can start with the steps to reproduce. If you work through those, there should no longer be an error. Given the previous point, however, other parts of the system may also need to be tested, and those need to be identified.
- Verifying the fix works: Given the fixed software, and the information about what needs to be tested, then you actually need to perform those tests, and verify that everything works.
In many cases you hardly notice some of the steps. For example, if the software always fails in a certain place with an informative error message, then that might jump you to step 4. To give a recent example: MDL-42863 was reported to me with this error message:
Error reading from database
Debug info: ERROR: relation "mdl_questions" does not exist
LINE 1: ...ECT count(1) FROM mdl_qtype_combined t1 LEFT JOIN mdl_questi...
SELECT count(1) FROM mdl_qtype_combined t1 LEFT JOIN mdl_questions t2 ON t1.questionid = t2.id WHERE t1.questionid <> $1 AND t2.id IS NULL
[array (0 => '0',]
Error code: dmlreadexception
- line 423 of /lib/dml/moodle_database.php: dml_read_exception thrown
- line 248 of /lib/dml/pgsql_native_moodle_database.php: call to moodle_database->query_end()
- line 764 of /lib/dml/pgsql_native_moodle_database.php: call to pgsql_native_moodle_database->query_end()
- line 1397 of /lib/dml/moodle_database.php: call to pgsql_native_moodle_database->get_records_sql()
- line 1470 of /lib/dml/moodle_database.php: call to moodle_database->get_record_sql()
- line 1641 of /lib/dml/moodle_database.php: call to moodle_database->get_field_sql()
- line 105 of /admin/tool/xmldb/actions/check_foreign_keys/check_foreign_keys.class.php: call to moodle_database->count_records_sql()
- line 159 of /admin/tool/xmldb/actions/XMLDBCheckAction.class.php: call to check_foreign_keys->check_table()
- line 69 of /admin/tool/xmldb/index.php: call to XMLDBCheckAction->invoke()
I have emboldened the key bit that says where the error is. Well, there are really two errors here. One is that the Combined question type add-on refers to mdl_questions when it should be mdl_question. The other is that the XMLDB check should not die with a fatal error if presented with bad input like this. The point is, this was all immediately obvious to me from the error message.
Another recent example at the other extreme is MDL-42880. There was no error message in this case, but presumably someone noticed that some of their quiz settings had changed unexpectedly (Step 1). Then John Hoopes, who reported the bug, had to do some careful investigation to work out what was going on (Step 2). I am glad he did, because it was pretty subtle thing, so in this case Step 2 was probably a lot of work. From there, it was obvious which bit of the code was broken (Step 3).
Note that Step 3 is not always obvious even when you have an error message. Sometimes things only blow up later as a consequence of something that went wrong before. To use an extreme example, if someone fills your kettle with petrol, instead of water, and then you turn it on to make some tea and it blows up. The error is not with turning the kettle on to make tea, but with filling it with petrol. If all you have is shrapnel, finding out how the petrol ended up in the kettle might be quite hard. (I have no idea why I dreamt up that particular analogy!)
MDL-42880 also shows the difference between the conceptual Steps 4 and 5, and the code-related Steps 3 and 6. I though the problem was with a certain variable becoming un-set at a certain time, so I coded a fix to ensure the value was never lost. That led to complex code that required a paragraph-long comment to try to explain it. Then I had a chat with Sam Marshall who suggested that in fact the problem was that another bit of code was relying on the value that variable, when actually the value was irrelevant. That lead to a simpler (hence better) fix: stop depending on the irrelevant value.
What does this mean for software?
There are a few obvious consequences that I want to mention here, although they are well known good practice. I am sure there are other more subtle ones.
First, you want the error messages output by your software to be as clear and informative as possible. They should lead you to where the problem actually occurred, rather than having symptoms only manifesting later. We don't want exploding kettles. There are some good examples of this in Moodle.
Second, because Step 7, ensuring that you have not broken anything else, is hard, it really pays to structure your software well. If you software is made up of separate modules that are each responsible for doing one thing, and which communicate in defined ways, then it is easier to know what the effect of changing a bit of one component is. If your software is a big tangle, who knows the effect of pulling one string.
Third, it really pays to engage with your users and get them to report bugs. Of course, you would like to find and fix all the bugs before you release the software, but that is impossible. For example, we are working towards a new release of the OU's Moodle platform at the start of December. We have had two professional testers testing it for a month, and a few select users doing various bits of ad-hoc testing. That adds up to less than 100 person days. On the day the software is released, probably 50,000 different users will log in. 50,000 user days, even by non-expert testers, are quite likely to find something that no-one else noticed.
What does this mean for users?
The more important consequences are for users, particularly of open-source software.
- Reporting bugs (Step 1) is a valuable contribution. You are adding to the collective knowledge of the project.
There are, however, some caveats that follow from the fact that in many projects, the number of developers available to fix bugs is smaller than the number of users reporting bugs.
- If you report a bug that was already reported, then someone will have to find the duplicate and link the two. Rather than being a useful contribution, this just wastes resources, so try hard to find any existing bug report, and add your information there, before creating a new one.
- You can contribute more by reporting good steps to reproduce (Step 2). It does not require a developer to work those out, and if you can do it, then there is more chance that someone else will do the remaining work to fix the bug. On the other hand, there is something of a knack to working out and testing which factors are, or are not, significant in triggering a bug. The chances are that an experienced developer or tester can work out the steps to reproduce quicker than you could. If, however, all the experienced developers are busy then waiting for them to have time to investigate is probably slower than investigating yourself. If you are interested, you can develop your won diagnosis skills.
- If you have an error message then copy and paste it exactly. It may be all the information you need to give to get straight to Step 3 or 4. In Moodle you can get a really detailed error message by setting 'debugging' to 'DEVELOPER' level, then triggering the bug again. (One of the craziest mis-features in Windows is that most error pop-ups do not let you copy-and-paste the message. Paraphrased error messages can be worse than useless.)
Finally, it is worth pointing out that Step 9 is another thing that can be done by the user, not a developer. For developers, it is really motivating when the person who reported the bug bothers to try it out and confirm that it works. This can be vital when the problem only occurs in an environment that the developer cannot easily replicate (for example an Oracle-specific bug in Moodle).
Thinking about bug finding and fixing as knowledge creation puts a more positive spin on the whole process than is normally the case. This shows that lots of people, not just developers and testers, have something useful to contribute. This is something that open source projects are particularly good at harnessing.
It also shows why it makes sense for an organisation like the Open University to participate in an open source community like Moodle: Bugs may be discovered before they harm our users. Other people may help diagnose the problem, and there is a large community of developers with whom we can discuss different possible solutions. Other people will help test our fixes, and can help us verify that they do not have unintended consequences.
by Tim Hunt (email@example.com) at 28 November, 2013 06:14 PM
25 November, 2013
Moodle 2.6 includes several new features developed by Catalyst
Improved Password reset process
The process for resetting a forgotten password in Moodle was previously lengthy and over-complicated. This improvement reduced the number of steps from 13 to 6. It was implemented by Peter Bulmer as a funded request from Statistics New Zealand and the Accident Compensation Corporation, who gave their approval for the work to be contributed to the community.
More information is available on the Moodle Tracker: MDL-23692
CSV Bulk Course Creation tool
One of the highest voted for features in the Moodle Tracker with 166 votes, this tool was developed by Piers Harding – it allows Moodle courses to be created and removed by passing a CSV file.
More information is available on the Moodle Tracker: MDL-13114
Assignment Marking management and workflow
This feature implements a marking workflow in the Assignment module that allows selective release of grades to students and individual marker allocation. This feature was developed by Dan Marsden for the Lightwork team at Massey University
More information is available on the Moodle Tracker: MDL-38359
A large number of improvements to the SCORM module were made by Dan Marsden including:
Improvements to management of package files(MDL-28579, MDL-41580)
New objectives report (MDL-39926)
User report improvements (MDL-41290)
Many of the developers in the team at Catalyst
provided other bug fixes and minor improvements that have been included as part of the 2.6 release. Catalyst is a certified Moodle Partner with offices in New Zealand
and the UK
by dan at 25 November, 2013 11:53 PM
21 November, 2013
by Eloy Lafuente (stronk7).
25 issues have been successfully integrated with 4 rejected and 0 delayed. That is 85% success, not bad!
- The storm of releases has ended, finally. Congrats everybody!
- For 2-3 weeks we'll be running the named "on-sync" period. Along it, we keep the new 26_STABLE branch and master 100%, with all the versions matching. That way, if any regression / problem is found on upgrade, we can apply the same solution for both branches easily. While we are in this period, any issue causing branches to diverge will be held for consideration once the period is over.
- Any 2.6 regression will get priority treatment, please fill any problem you discover.
- Soon, new proposals for 2.7 will be flooding us, feel free to comment, share, discuss any of them. Links to follow: Roadmap, Future major features.
- MDL-42884 - Allow to delete users with invalid emails.
- MDL-42504 - Warn the student on quiz auto-save problems.
- MDL-42852 - Blocks disappearing in Clean theme with RTL languages.
- MDL-42808 - Random timezone problems with scheduled backups.
- And some more in courses, themes, scorm, administration...
- To the people that helped us running the Moodle 2.6 QA tests, namely (source): Adrian Greeve, AL Rachels, Andrea Bicciolo, Ankit Agarwal, Carina Martinez, Chad Outten, Dan Poltawski, David Monllaó, Eloy Lafuente (stronk7), Farhan Karmali, Fernando Rocha, Frédéric Massart, Guillermo M., Hittesh, Jasmin Klindzic, Javier Sola Aréchaga, Joe Murphy, Joseph Rézeau, Kevin Wiliarty, Lehane Boonzaaier, Lisa Caines, Mary Cooch, Michael de Raadt, Michael E, Mitchell van Gerwen, Natalia Giovagnetti, Nicolas Martignoni, Rajesh Taneja, Rossiani Wijaya, Sakshi Goel, Sam Stegers, Séverin Terrier, Stephen Bourget. Thanks!
Ciao all, stronk7
21 November, 2013 11:18 PM
20 November, 2013
This week the latest version of Moodle was released, Moodle 2.6.
This is a long-awaited version for many of the excellent features that have been added. There are new features for all – some which help students, some which teachers will love and some which administrators will dance over.
Moodle HQ also released some videos highlighting each feature on their YouTube account.
These are a few of the cool teacher ones:
- The interface for editing a course is much improved – out with the line of icons and in with a nice usable drop down for editing (video)
- Teaches can now annotate assignment PDFs in their browser without the need to download them. (video)
- Teachers now have more control over the workflow of grading an assignment and who grades the assignment.(video)
- The certainty-based marking for quiz questions has now got improved feedback options
These are the ones that help students (and other users):
- Resetting your password in Moodle is a cleaner 1 step process, where you request the change and the link sent enables you to change it on the page. The link expires after 30 mins for security reasons.
- The continued work on making the Moodle site work better on mobile devices is really paying off, with it working better on desktops, tablets and phones.
- The text editor has been improved and made more user and device friendly
- The Skydrive integration is now available in core rather than a plugin, which is great news for institutions using it!
Administrators – prepare to dance:
- The bulk course creation tool has now made it into core which is really good news (video)
- The user interface for management of courses and categories has been majorly overhauled and it is a huge timesaver now. (video)
- The backing up and restoring of large courses has been improved performance wise which is great for all those 4-10 Gig courses out there!
As this will be the version that most Northern hemisphere organisations implement next Summer, it is great to see so many great new features and continued improvements across the board.
If you havent checked out the video playlist I am embedding it below.
For the release notes check here on Moodle Docs -> http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Moodle_2.6_release_notes
To download it – check the usual download page or GIT.
by ghenrick at 20 November, 2013 08:44 AM
16 November, 2013
by Eloy Lafuente (stronk7).
113 issues have been successfully integrated with 5 rejected and 0 delayed. That is 96% success, wow!
- First of all, welcome back, moodle.org. We have been missing you!
- Then, after a very intense week, with everybody helping everywhere, Moodle 2.6rc1 (release candidate 1) has been tagged. And the final 2.6.0 version, built on top of it, will be released this Monday.
- Finally, here it's a link to the Moodle 2.6.0 release testing matrix. It's the first time we run it, there are still some combinations to fix (ignore any non-firefox combination, they are not stable enough) but also shows some aspects where we are lacking testing resources (sqlsrv, windows...). We'll improve there!
- MDL-42887 - Worth noting this. It applies some "responsive" behavior to all the labels in all the forms for all the themes in Moodle. If you find any glitch with the new behavior, please report it ASAP.
- And lots more everywhere!
- To everybody involved with the Moodle 2.6.0 release in any way. You did it!
Ciao all, stronk7
16 November, 2013 12:08 PM
14 November, 2013
With the latest major version (2.6) coming next week, it was good to see the latest minor releases published.
If you are currently using Moodle 2.3, 2.4 or 2.5 then you should consider upgrading to the latest minor release. As normal with minor releases, the releases contain bug fixes and a number of security fixes.
The Moodle 2.5.3 releases addresses 224 bugs (see 2.5.3 release notes)
The Moodle 2.4.7 releases addresses 150 bugs (see 2.4.7 release notes)
The Moodle 2.3.10 releases addresses 150 bugs (see 2.3.10 release notes)
If you are still on the older Moodle 2.3 (which was released June 2012) you should consider upgrading to a later version now, ideally looking at 2.5.3.
For downloads as always check out the Moodle.org download pages on http://download.moodle.org
by ghenrick at 14 November, 2013 07:52 AM
29 October, 2013
Have you Enjoyed the Essential theme? Maybe you still use the Rocket theme or the Font Awesome filter? Wished you could give something back? Well I need your help!
And the good news is that I am not asking you to give ME anything. I need your help to fundraise for Mens health! I enjoy putting back into the community around me. tis is why I release my theme’s like Rocket and Essential free to the community. My other way of putting back to the community is through fundraising.
I am taking part in this years Movember campaign and I want to raise an EPIC amount of funds towards this event. If you are not familiar with Movember I would urge you to take a look at their website here.
On average, men die at a significantly younger age than women – the average life expectancy for Australian men is almost five years less than women (presently 79.5 compared to 84), however there is no biological reason for this. The reasons for the poor state of men’s health in Australia and around the world are numerous and complex.
From Movember’s perspective the reasons for the poor state of men’s health include:
- Lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face
- Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
- Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physical or mentally well
- Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health
- Stigmas surrounding mental health
Movember aims to change the face of men’s health and reverse this way of thinking by putting a fun twist on this serious issue. Using the moustache as a catalyst, we want to bring about change and give men the opportunity and confidence to learn and talk about their health more openly and take action.
As an official Movember participant I need your help to raise funds and help me grow one of the most awful looking moustaches you have ever seen.
Please note: You are NOT sending the money to me. It is all sent directly to the Movember Foundation.
What am I asking for?
- If you can, please donate through my Movember profile. Any amount helps. Size doesn’t matter. just remember you are helping with a good cause and whatever you can spare is appreciated. DONATE NOW!!
- Please Facebook the link to my page at http://www.mobro.co/moodleman, retweet it or post it on your social networks. The more the word can spread the greater the amount of funds I can raise.
- Sign up for Movember yourself. I always donate back as much as I receive myself. So, if you sign up just let me know your own profile on Movember and I’ll match you dollar for dollar.
Just by helping me help them I will know that Essential is being well appreciated and that we are all putting back into our communities.
Please support me today!
The post Get behind my Mo this Movember appeared first on Moodleman Blog.
by moodleman at 29 October, 2013 07:46 AM
22 October, 2013
The Moodle Research Conference took place on 4th and 5th October in Sousse, Tunisia. There was a lot of presentations of the papers which really made me think about different aspects of learning, and specifically elearning.
Here are some thoughts that I picked out from my notes. These are a mix of being a point from their presentations, and my thoughts related to the presentation. So although not direct quotes – the presentation is referenced for completeness.
We need to enable meaningful communication between students.
Re:- Keynote “Negotiating students’ attention” Prof Dick Ng’ambi
Successful technical management of Moodle is based on using well known standard tools in their management of the system along with skilled motivated staff and strong documented processes.
Re: -”On Optimal Strategies for the Development and Operation of Moodle in Higher Education Institutions” – M Omar Faruque Sarker, Jo Matthews, Jessica Gramp
The use of analytics can underpin the transformative use of Moodle from the initial standard document repository to a more blended and collaborative learning delivery system.
Re: “Beyond the baseline: working with e-learning champions to transform e-learning at a research-led university” - Jessica Gramp
Rather than just providing the content, providing self-assessment tools (like quizzes) for learners to find where they have gaps and thus identify where they need to learn, and then supporting them is an interesting approach to blended teaching and creates effective quality teaching moments.
Re: “Full Mathematical Power In Calculated Questions Through Spreadsheets” – Hiram Bollaert
It is important to assess feedback on Moodle/Online learning into two buckets – institutional/organisational issues and learning platform/learning design issues.
Re: “The Use of Moodle at Cass Business School: A Student Perspective” – Leona Norris, Lowe Sporre, Didrik Svendsen
Personalisation can mean many things to many people. It is important to understand what level of personalisation that you can offer and that you want to offer in the different aspects of learning, and crucially what impact this will have on staff and learners alike.
Re: “Emphasising personalisation movements in contemporary management education: the impact on learning environments” – Martin Rich, Clive Holtham, Ann Brown, Annora Eyt-Dessus, Leona Norris
All the papers are individually downloadable from the Moodle Research Conference website database. The full proceedings are available on the MRC2013 website.
by ghenrick at 22 October, 2013 07:14 PM
21 October, 2013
by Dan Poltawski.
45 issues have been successfully integrated with 14 rejected. That is 76% success.
On Friday we released Moodle 2.6 beta and moved BETA maturity status, over the next few weeks we will be working to integrate fixes detected during the QA testing period. Please pay particular attention to any mdlqa bugs reported to you.
There are currently 18 issues waiting for peer review, please help review these issues if you are able to.
- To Iñaki Arenaza for many years of collaboration and development in the Moodle community. Thanks!
21 October, 2013 05:42 AM
17 October, 2013
What is Font Awesome?
Font Awesome was first created by Dave Gandy in February 2012. Billed as “the iconic font”, this pictographic font is designed for use with Twitter Bootstrap in mind. But guess what? You don’t need to have a Twitter Bootstrap site to be able to use it. Font Awesome can be used with any website, including Moodle.
A sample of some of the available icons
Font Awesome is fully Open Source, licensed under SIL OFL 1.1 with the code itself licensed under the MIT License. If you use Font Awesome in your sites you are not required to provide attribution however it is happily welcomed
You can also contribute your own icons. While they do keep a very tight reign on quality there is a process for submitting your own icons to get included in the next release. Click here for information on how to submit your own icons.
Why use Font Awesome?
There are many great reasons to use Font Awesome. To start off with it is a wonderfully diverse set of over 360 icons with an icon to suit nearly every situation. Each icon is a scalable vector graphic. The beauty of this is that you can make them as large or small as you like without any breakdown in quality. You will never see the pixelation that you would typically see when magnifying an image. Each icon can also be customized. Their size, color, drop shadow, in fact just about anything can be changed with the power of CSS.
Bullhorn as a vector icon. Note: no blurred edges.
Bullhorn as a standard icon. Note the blur as it scales.
How to Setup Moodle for Font Awesome
Install a Font Awesome enabled theme
Some Moodle themes are now coming with Font Awesome already enabled. To find out if they do just read the information found about them in the Modules and Plugins Database.
One such theme that already has Font Awesome contained within is the Essential Theme. Once this theme is enabled you will be able to use Font Awesome right away.
Download the theme
Load Font Awesome via CDN
So you want to use these icons in your content but don’t want to change your theme? No worries. You can instead load Font Awesome into your Moodle site using another method called CDN.
A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance. You can pull Font Awesome into your site using any theme by adding a single line to your Admin settings. This line will connect your Moodle to a dedicated CDN to reliably load Font Awesome into your Moodle site.
To add the CDN to your Moodle you need to add the following line to your “Additional HTML” settings in Site Administration. You can find this located under the “Appearance” menu.
Additional HTML under the Appearance menu
Once you are in the “Additional HTML” settings we need to add the following line to the “Within HEAD” section. This will then load the Font Awesome as part of every page load.
The CDN line is added to “within head”
Using Font Awesome in Moodle
Sadly using Font Awesome icons in Moodle is not straight forward. The instructions from the Font Awesome website are to use the following code to display an icon:
There are two problems with this methodology however.
- Teachers have to toggle to HTML view in the text editor to be able to enter this
- Even if you do type it in correctly Moodle will strip it out anyway when you hit save
To get past both these issues I have created a new Moodle filter to allow for the easy addition of Font Awesome icons anywhere in Moodle where you have a text editor.
The Font Awesome Moodle Filter
The aim of this filter was to provide an easy and functional way for content creators to easily add Font Awesome icons anywhere in course content. If using the recommended method provide by Font Awesome which involves creating custom classes you will find that the text editor strips these out automatically as unrecognised/bad code. This filter provides another mechanism to add Font Awesome icons that won’t be stripped out by the editor.
Once you have installed the filter adding an icon to anywhere in your course that you wish is now a simple process. The hardest part is finding the icon you wish to use. To browse the full list of over 360 icons please visit this link. Once you have found the icon you are after you just have to surround it with a set of square brackets. I’ll create a label as an example
Adding an icon to a label using the filter
This will add a small beaker icon once saved and then viewed in Moodle.
Viewing the label
You will notice that by default the icon is quite small. The good news is that you can use a variety of additional options to change how this icon displays in your content. These are listed below.
Moodle Filter Options
Not happy with the icon size, alignment or direction? Check out this wide range of options to allow you to customise the display.
If you wish to make the icon larger you can use a multiplier. e.g.:
[icon-beaker icon-2x] or [icon-camera-retro icon-4x]
If you wish to rotate the icon you can specify how many degrees clockwise. e.g.:
You can also flip an icon horizontally or vertically. e.g.:
[icon-beaker icon-flip-horizontal] or [icon-beaker icon-flip-vertical]
You can mute the colour to a dull grey. e.g.:
You can “pull” the icon to the left or right. If it is “pulled” to the left text will wrap to the right. e.g.:
All the settings above can be mixed and matched to achieve the perfect outcome. For example if I wanted to highlight a famous quote I could do the following:
Adding a “quote” icon
Would generate a label looking like:
A famous Quote
Hopefully now you can see how easy it is, with only a couple of settings, to start using Fonts in your courses. The use of these are limited only to your imagination. They can be used in
…and so much more. Be sure to visit the demo course showing these and other examples.
The post Using FontAwesome in Moodle appeared first on Moodleman Blog.
by moodleman at 17 October, 2013 12:37 AM
14 October, 2013
It is good to be reminded about how learners see our systems sometimes. Honestly!
For the last week, my husband has been working through a wide selection of e-learning materials for his company. His boss sees his progress and grades so apparently it is important that he passes every module. Here are some of the comments I’ve heard him mutter about:
- I can’t log in
- Why does the pop-up blocker keep kicking in?
- I want to go back and start the next module but I have to click so many times, its annoying.
- That answer was right, why did it say I was wrong?
- That feedback doesn’t go with the answer I gave.
- Where did my grades go, why can’t I see them?
- Why didn’t my progress track?
- Why did it tell me it tracked on one section and not on the next one?
- “I’ve been here for 7 years, fixing bikes for 30+ and that’s just plain wrong!”
The thing is, that when he started this rant, we both made comments about how they should use a decent learning system, and you don’t even have to pay for one of those if you want. After all, Moodle has again been voted best LMS in Top 100 Tools for Learning survey.
So you can imagine my horror when on Saturday morning he finally showed me this travesty of a system. Oh dear. Moodle.
Actually, I think it turns out to be Totara, because I found a few links with that in the name. There’s certainly some custom code in there that I’ve never seen before.
I decided that I had a vested interest in this system and I wanted to work out where the problems really were. After all, if there are bugs they should be reported. My husband has already complained about a lot of these issues, but I could perhaps help pass on some more constructive criticism.
- I can’t work out what his log in problems were, but he seems to have that dialed now. To be honest, he’s pretty bad with passwords anyway, so it could just have been user error.
- All the modules are set up as Moodle courses with SCORM packages in them. The SCORM packages are set to open in a separate window, which is causing the pop-up blocker to fire, and then the multiple clicks at the end to go to the next package. This is poor set-up in my view, and could easily be rectified.
- The progress and grading issues I’m not sure about. These could be to do with the way the SCORM packages are set up, or the way they’ve been programmed. I’m no SCORM expert. It could be a bug. The one that does look like a bug is the way the overall progress bar works. As you can see from this screenshot I took, he has progress in individual courses, but the overall bar at the top hasn’t moved.
- Most of his concerns though are about the content of the learning material. I think that’s a good thing because it means that most of the time he is focusing on his learning and not on the system. But, whoever built the assessments needs a slap for the way the questions/answers/feedback are poorly wired up.
My husband is no different from any other e-learning student, so what he experiences and how he responds are presumably pretty typical. Here’s what I learned from all this.
A student has no trust in the system if he answers a question with the obviously correct answer and is told (and presumably graded) that he got it wrong, or if he does things and the progress bars don’t move.
A system can give a bad impression even if the system itself is not at fault. The content is king and where students can not separate content issues from system ones, so the system gets the blame. I wonder how often that is true when people complain? But we developers can do little about it.
I’m surprised by how worried students can get about this stuff. To my eye, they’re not major issues, but he’s really unnerved by them. He knows that he’s being judged by his scores, and he’s paranoid that he’s wasting his time. That’s bound to be true of OU students too.
We have a duty to make things as easy as possible for them to use, and to make sure everything is logical, sensible and understandable in the features we build and the promptness with which we fix issues. It is notoriously hard to remove features from systems but I wonder what we could do to discourage ones (like pop-up windows) that have poor usability and encourage people into better practice.
Now, how do I report a potential bug in Totara? Maybe I can’t since I don’t even know what version they’re running :(.
by jennymgray at 14 October, 2013 09:16 AM
11 October, 2013
by Eloy Lafuente (stronk7).
NN issues have been successfully integrated with P rejected and Q delayed. That is R% success, good one!
- Various things that cannot be shared here have happened in codebase this week.
- One of them was pretty, pretty interesting.
- The others, too, but in a lower degree. We'll continue informing about all them.
- While the weather is hot here, we are 100% frozen. Only bug fixes (and goal issues) will be allowed to land. Everything else, held.
- Still we aren't beta, but will soon. Plz, don't tell!
- MDL-0f1db - Replacement to COCOCO and CACACA MANAGGGG pages.
- MDL-ab88c - Improved DELETTT of XYWZ.
- MDL-edaad - Organize KAPUTT handlers in core.
- MDL-876bb - Problems with the PHONEXXX theme (soon to be deleted from core, be warned!).
- MDL-1efa2 - More progresses in that BACKXXX area, big thanks to everybody involved!
- And tons more in other areas I cannot bring more details about. Well, yes.. well, no!
- To X.Y. Ng , our Digital Marketing Specialist, for the huge amount of new keys to play (nobody else can deserve it more in a post like this, ROFL).
Ciao all, shhh7
11 October, 2013 02:44 PM
10 October, 2013
Over the past few months I have presented variations of presentations around gamification, and this deck is my most complete and recent version that was delivered at the Moodlemoot in Barcelona (with Laia Canet) and the Medmoot in Tunisia.
What are your thoughts on Gamification, Motivation and their use in learning and in Moodle?
Please contribute your thoughts in the comments!
by ghenrick at 10 October, 2013 08:41 PM
05 October, 2013
In the last two weeks I have been lucky to present at both the Barcelona Moodlemoot and the Mediterranean Moodlemoot on Open Badges and Moodle. After a short explanation of OpenBadges, the focus moves to the processes around rolling out badges.
The presentation ends with slides on the Moodle aspects of OpenBadges.
These are the slides which I used in the presentation.
What is your approach to badges?
by ghenrick at 05 October, 2013 01:02 PM
04 October, 2013
Last week I did a couple of presentations (on MoodleMobile Roadmap and MoodleMobile plugin development) at MoodleMoot Spain 2013.
It was a privilege share some thoughts with Martin Dougiamas, other Moodle developers and admins, thanks to that I was alerted to some existing bugs in MoodleMobile that were quickly solved the next few days.
Here you have the two presentations (via Slideshare):
by juan-leyva (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 04 October, 2013 03:41 PM
by Dan Poltawski.
Whilst I sat in the hammock of development this week - Sam, Marina and Eloy have been churning through the mountain of issues and Sam Hemelryk provided me with this update through the power of telepathy:
61 issues made the cut this week with 5 being rejected and only a single issue being delayed. That is a success rate of 92.42%! great job everyone.
Code freeze is next Monday if you haven't got your code in yet or up for integration review you had better hurry. Because of this time frame many interesting changes were accepted this week.
- MDL-41888 Quiz statistics back-end has been moved to core, so they can potentially be reused by other activities.
- MDL-41398 Changes to bootstrapbase and clean to better handle upgrades lead to a new layout file for those themes.
- MDL-41848 SCORM can now be added by drag+drop.
- MDL-41882 + MDL-41421 The site and testplan generators were backported this week to the 2.5 branch.
- MDL-41878 When loading YUI modules we now use a shorter path, leading to a reduced number of requests on some pages.
- Several more modules were converted to make use of the new events API.
This week warm thanks goes to one of our own Damyon Wiese for his awesome work on the Atto editor and continued efforts (with help from the frontend team) to polish it before release.
 If only.
04 October, 2013 04:37 AM
01 October, 2013
The next 5 days are looking to be quite engaging starting with tomorrow when the Mediterranean Moodle Moot begins. The programme is pack full of presentations over the two days.
I will be delivering a number of presentations at the Moot starting off with a session on Open Badges which will be co-presented with Megan Cole, Community Strategy Lead for the Mozilla Foundation (who is presenting remotely). Open Badges do seem to be the hot topic of the moment, so it will be interesting to see what the current stats are globally and also what the views of the attendees are on the implementation side of Badges.
After lunch I will be presenting on a process to use in Reviewing Add-ons for your Moodle installation, and will be giving the participants a challenge to do a review / evaluation of some plugins during the session.
On Thursday I have a morning presentation on Gamification, and specifically how to use it to improve learner engagement in a course.
My last session at the MedMoot is a workshop on the database activity, uses, configuring and all that jazz!
I am looking forward to meeting everyone and getting their views and vision on badges and gamification especially as they seem to be some of the most popular topics at present.
Lets hope it is not too hot!
by ghenrick at 01 October, 2013 09:20 AM
27 September, 2013
by Marina Glancy.
51 issues have been successfully integrated this week with 7 rejected and 5 delayed. This is 88% success rate.
Lots of interesting improvements are landing now. The issues are mostly very big and integrators work 24 hours a day reviewing (and sometimes rejecting) them. But even 24h is not always enough.
- MDL-31501 New session infrastructure - file, database and memcached storage. Thanks Petr
- MDL-40903 Persistent cache setting renamed to static acceleration and affects data only. Thanks Sam
- MDL-41580 Allow an imsmanifest.xml file to be selected from a file system repository and allow relative linking. Thanks Dan Marsden
- To David Monllao for making Moodle automated testing better and better every day!
27 September, 2013 06:42 AM
26 September, 2013
Today the Moodlemoot Spain 2013 kicked off in Barcelona at the Universitat Pumpeu Fabra, Barcelona. One of the first speakers was Martin Dougiamas speaking about teaching and learning.
Martin started off with a retrospective on various solutions over the last 100 years which have claimed that they will replace teachers and as of yet have not. It is an interesting thought to contemplate as to what the role of a teacher was, is and will be as technology and society changes. There is so much content available, networks for discussions and sharing and tools that can be used to assess – maybe technology is making more of us teachers and not less.
One of the other points Martin talked about was where the focus was with Moodle development. I was most interested in the improvements in the forum which he discussed including Discussion Thread subscription, in-line replies and posting stats.
With the Moodle Research Conference taking place next week in Tunisia, it was great that Martin also shared some of the research questions that he would like to see answered:
There is a lot of points there which can be looked into.
Thats all for now, more over the coming week while I attend two Moodlemoots and the Moodle Research Conference.
by ghenrick at 26 September, 2013 09:48 AM
24 September, 2013
Following on from an earlier post we now have 2 new methods for managing SCORM content in Moodle 2.6.
Selecting a Zip package as an alias from a repository.
When adding/updating a SCORM and selecting a Zip package from a repository in Moodle 2.6 you now have the ability to create an alias/shortcut to the file – you can then set an update frequency to set how often Moodle should check to see if there is an updated zip. To set this up follow the steps below:
- Click the ‘Turn editing on’ button at the top right of the course page
- Click the ‘Add an activity or resource’ link in the section you wish to add your SCORM package, then in the activity chooser, select SCORM package then click the Add button (or select ‘SCORM package’ from the ‘Add an activity’ dropdown menu)
- Enter a name and a description.
- click the Add button to open the File picker menu in order to choose a file a repository
- Select the repository that contains your SCORM zip files
- Browse and select the SCORM zip file you wish to add – makes sure you select the option to create an alias/shortcut to the file.
- Set the auto-update setting to “every day” – which will check overnight if a package update is required or “every time it’s used” to check if a new package is available every time a user enters the SCORM.
- Click the button ‘Save and display’ at the bottom of the page and then enter the SCORM package to make sure it has worked!
Selecting an imsmanifest.xml from an unzipped SCORM in a file system repository.
This allows you to create a repository that contains all your unzipped SCORM packages – you can also share assets between your SCORM packages – for example if you re-use the same video file across multiple packages you can just link to that single video file from multiple imsmanifest.xml files – you can also update your content and as the content is loaded directly from the repository the user will always see the most up to date file. To set this up follow the steps below(some of this is copied from MoodleDocs)
- First set up a new File system repository (you need direct access to your server to do this)
- Find the moodledata folder on the server
- Inside it, create a folder called “repository” (if it doesn’t exist already)
- Inside that folder, create a new folder for your repository of SCORM packages named appropriately.
- Extract your SCORM packages into appropriate locations within this folder.
- . Enabling the File System repository plugin
- Go to Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Repositories > Manage Repositories;
- Select from the drop down next to File sytem “Enabled and visible”
- Click the Settings link..
- Click Create a repository instance
- Give it a name and choose from the dropdown the folder you created with your SCORM packages.
- Click the checkbox “Allow relative files” and Save.
- Adding a SCORM package
- Click the ‘Turn editing on’ button at the top right of the course page
- Click the ‘Add an activity or resource’ link in the section you wish to add your SCORM package, then in the activity chooser, select SCORM package then click the Add button (or select ‘SCORM package’ from the ‘Add an activity’ dropdown menu)
- Enter a name and a description.
- click the Add button to open the File picker menu.
- Select the SCORM file system repository you created in the file picker window.
- Browse and select the imsmanifest.xml file you wish to add – makes sure you select the option to create an alias/shortcut to the file.
- After selecting the imsmanifest.xml file click the button ‘Save and display’ at the bottom of the page and then enter the SCORM package to make sure it has worked!
This method is only currently supported by the file system repository – it’s possible that some of the other repository types could be added in future.
by dan at 24 September, 2013 02:42 AM
23 September, 2013
Moodle 2.6(releases November 2013) brings some great improvements to the SCORM module
One of the most voted for features in the Moodle tracker for SCORM has been to allow better use of alias’s and support for unzipped content – Thanks to one of our clients at Catalyst IT we have now implemented this in Moodle 2.6
Key components of this work are covered in the following tracker issues:
MDL-41434 – When updating a SCORM package we used to delete all the records in the scorm_scoes table and then recreate them which caused all sorts of issues – by implementing a sort field in the table we keep the existing data and order it correctly this makes updating a SCORM package less fragile.
MDL-28579 – The SCORM module previously used the basic filepicker element which didn’t support the use of creating an alias/link to a file, converting to the advanced filemanager element gives a lot more flexibility.
MDL-41580 – This was the harder part to get right – this patch allows a file system repository in Moodle to support relative linked files – this means that you can unzip your SCORM package in a file system repository and then when creating your SCORM inside your course you just link directly to the imsmanifest.xml file within your repository.
I will follow this up with a post that shows how to use this feature.
Mayank Gupta has been working hard on improving the SCORM player as part of his GSOC project – particularly to improve it’s use on mobile devices - we now have a more responsive design and the SCORM TOC automatically collapses and hides on smaller screens and it seems to fit these devices a lot better than our older SCORM player – he has also converted a lot of the older code to make sure it meets the Moodle coding guidelines. You can see some of the details on this in MDL-39910 I’ll try to follow this post up later with some screen-shots of the updated player in action.
We have also improved the reporting in SCORM:
MDL-39926 – A new Objectives report like the existing Interactions report, some SCORM packages use objectives to report progress through a course so we added a nicer view of this data that allows easy export.
MDL-41290 – Improved user level reporting – the old user level reports were quite limited – we have added the ability to export this data and have added a more useful view of the interaction elements as well.
Thanks to everyone who has helped with funding or with development and testing of these improvements!
by dan at 23 September, 2013 11:56 PM
20 September, 2013
by Sam Hemelryk.
Cold numbers:34 issues
have been successfully integrated this week with only 3 rejected. There were no issues delayed. Success rate was just shy of 92%.
Code freeze is just around the corner. Beat the rush, get your new features and improvements up for integration now!
The conversion of old log entries to new events continues with new module events. Thanks Ankit.
Several new assign module webservices and overall improvements. Thanks Damyon.
A couple of user fields have increased in length. Thanks Marina.
To Dan Marsden
this week for his continued work on the SCORM module. An amazing effort as always thanks Dan!
20 September, 2013 04:45 AM
19 September, 2013
The call for proposals is now open for the Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014 being held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on April 14-16, 2014.
The Edinburgh Corn Exchange – Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014
This year the main theme of the Moodlemoot is the student experience. There will be three strands:
- Active Learning
- Assessment and Evaluation
- Wider Support and Admin
The Moodlemoot Committee are now inviting proposals for presentations and posters! For more details on the different presentation formats click here
The call for proposals closes on October 31st, 2013.
The schedule for the two central days (April 15th and 16th) of the Moodlemoot will be designed to cater for a number of proposal types these include:
- Pecha Kucha ( 6 mins 40 seconds)
- Short Presentations (15 minutes)
- Long Presentations (25 Minutes)
There will be a number of training and workshops sessions for the 1st day of the Moot (April 14th) – these are being organised centrally and the full list will be announced in coming month or so before full registration begins.
On April 17th there will also be a developer focused hackfest.
If you have any ideas you may wish to contribute please email email@example.com
How to Submit
To submit your proposal, you have fill out the online proposal form @ http://moodlemoot-edinburgh.exordo.com
The steps for submission are quite straight forward.
You will be first asked to register – which is just three simple steps
- Fill in your email
- Fill in your first name and surname
- Click Create Account, then click continue.
Now you can move into the submission process
To start Click on Submit a Paper
- Step 1. Type in the Title and Abstract – Click Done
- Step 2. Fill in the authors page including affiliation/organisation – Click Done
- Step 3. Select the Topics for the Submission – Click Done
- Step 4. Select which submission format you are submitting the abstract for – Click Done
If you need to edit any details you can then Click on EDIT
And that’s that, you can submit more than one proposal if you wish.
Be sure to check out the different formats of presentations before you submit your idea.
See you in Edinburgh next April.
by ghenrick at 19 September, 2013 06:48 AM
17 September, 2013
A few days ago we rolled out some new features. So far things don’t seem to have broken catastrophically, so I thought now might be a good time to publicize them a bit!
- Quickly update your page to see annotations other people have added while you’re reading
- See a list of all annotations on the page from the toolbar
- The toolbar will now work on a range of modern mobile apple and android devices
- Rich text formatting for your comments
- Best-guess approach to fixing pins which have got lost (broken) because the page has changed since the annotation was made
Plus a lot of updating of underlying libraries (including to Silverstripe 3 and jquery 10) which will make things easier for us to maintain.
A fairly short list, but quite a lot of changes. I hope people like them!
by jennymgray at 17 September, 2013 11:03 AM
16 September, 2013
Many moodle sites make use of the fantastic “Custom Menu” which was introduced in Moodle 2.0 and above. For the un-initiated, the custom menu is a set of dropdown menus that display across the top of a Moodle page. It’s links can be set in Amin settings accessible by Managers and Administrators
Setting up a Custom Menu
The custom menu setting in Moodle administration allows you to create a drop down menu that can be displayed by themes that support it. Currently all themes that are provided with Moodle 2.0 support this custom menu as to a large proportion of those in the Plugins database on moodle.org.
To create your first custom menu follow these steps:
- As an administrator, go to Administration > Site administration > Appearance > Themes > Theme Settings and scroll down to the “Custom Menu Items” field.
- You are able to create the custom menu by entering custom menu items one per line into the setting. A custom menu item contains, at minimum, two variables. The first is the label/text we are going to display to our users and the second is the URL we will point them towards. These two variables are separated by a vertical line, also often referred to as a “pipe”, that is typed by using (Shift + \) . For example:
- To add sub-menu’s to our custom menu we can proceed items by a number of hyphens (-), the number of hyphens determines the depth of the item. So items that are NOT preceded by a hyphen appear on the top level of the menu (always visible), items with a single hyphen appear on a drop down menu below the previous top level item, and items with two hyphens appear on a drop down menu below the previous first level item and so on. For example.
-Moodle free support|http://moodle.org/support
-Moodle commercial hosting|http://moodle.com/hosting
-Moodle commercial support|http://moodle.com/support
If you have followed these steps correctly you should end up with a menu looking similar to this.
A simple custom menu
Tip One – Adding Tool Tips
- As mentioned above, creating a custom menu item requires a minimum of two variables, the Label and URL. But many don’t know that there 2 more you can use that add additional features to your menu.
- The first advanced tip is that we can add a Tooltip to the custom menu if needed. This is an optional feature for those who want it. A tooltip displays when the mouse is hovered over the item and can be used for larger titles or for item descriptions if needed. For example:
Moodle community|http://moodle.org|The official online community for Moodle
If you have followed these steps correctly you should end up with a menu looking similar to this when you hover your mouse over the item.
Custom Menu with hovering Tooltip
Note: If no tooltip is set then Moodle uses the Label instead
Tip Two – Multiple Languages
One question I hear often and am amazed so few know about is “Can we have our custom menu adjust based on the users language?” . The answer is YES YOU CAN. All we have to do is provide the Label in the languages you wish to set. Before we can do this you need to ensure you have already installed the additional language packs through Administration > Site Administration > Languages > Language Packs.
When you install the languages you will see that each has an abbreviated form. For instance English is en, German is de, etc. Once we know this it is easy for us to add the forth variable, a Language. For example:
Moodle community|http://moodle.org|The official online community for Moodle|en
Moodle gemeinschaft|http://moodle.org|Der offizielle Online-Community für Moodle|de
Now that we have entered both Moodle will display the item appropriate for the Language pack that has been chosen by the teacher in course settings or the user in their profile or through the Language menu.
The same custom menu now displaying in different languages
Tip Three – Links in New Windows
Sometimes you have a link in your custom menu that you want to open in a new window. This is also easy to achieve with a simple bit of HTML.
Moodle Homepage|http://moodle.org\" target=\"_blank
When the custom menu is being rendered by Moodle it surrounds it in a piece of HTML called a <a href> tag. What you are seeing above is us adding a target tag telling the browser to open the link in a new window.
It is important to note that you DON’T put a closing quote mark on the end of the statement. That was not a typo.
The post Custom Menu Tricks appeared first on Moodleman Blog.
by moodleman at 16 September, 2013 01:09 PM
14 September, 2013
A question I hear regularly in my travel from both teachers and Moodle admins alike is “How can I give my student’s parents access to Moodle?”. Or, in a business context, “How can I give a Team Leader access to their teams progress and performance?”. Surprisingly the answer is relatively simple if not a prolonged process.
With Moodle we traditionally think of the 8 pre-defined roles. These included:
- Course Creator
- Non-editing Teacher
- Authenticated User
Of course many situations arose where Admins wanted to create more roles that met their specific requirements. When Moodle 1.7 (how long ago was that!) was released one of the many additions it brought along with it was a new Roles architecture funded mainly by the Open University that finally gave admins the ability to create their own roles and role overrides with set permissions on demand.
Now I could write a 10 page article on roles, which to put your mind at ease I will not do now. But needless to say the ability to create on demand roles to allow specific functionality for users is a godsend. I have a role to allow a user just the ability to post news on the front-page, another role for College Directors and so forth. Todays post though will look at creating a Parent/Mentor Role.
What is a Parent/Mentor Role?
Here is the situation many of us are faced with. We have parents who want to see their child’s progress or a Team Leader needing to view their down-line staff inside the LMS. How can this be achieved while maintaining privacy. Here was my list of “Must Haves” and “Must Not Haves.
- Ability to see their child’s/staff’s marks
- Track their child’s/staff’s access of materials
- Be able to view their child’s/staff’s activity
- View content created by their child/staff (forum and blog posts/uploaded assignments)
Must Not Have
- the ability to see other child’s/staff’s details
- access to course materials. I don’t want my teachers/trainers judged by what they have online
- The ability to change or edit the child’s/staff’s work
Great news is we can create a custom role that will allow us to facilitate this!
Before I go on I also need to talk about where we can apply roles. Most teachers and admins know that roles can be allocated at a course/category/site level. (i.e. admins are site level roles, course creators may be category level roles and teachers are course level roles). But what many admins don’t know is that we can also apply roles at activity and at the user level as well. For parent roles to function we actually add a parent role to a student. This means that parents will only see details for the student/students to which they are attached.
How do we set this up? Well the following is blatantly copied and pasted from the MoodleDocs. If you are not yet already a follower of this brilliant user-created wiki for Moodle documentation then where have you been?
Setting up the Role
Creating new roles and allocating permissions is something that only Moodle Administrators can do. If you only have teacher access I am afraid at this point I have to tell you to not pass Go or collect $200. If you are an admin read on. All of this is also covered in the Moodle tutorial at the bottom of this post.
- As an administrator, go to Administration > Site administration > Users > Permissions > Define roles and click the “Add a new role” button.
- Give the role a name (such as “Parent”, but it can be anything appropriate, such as tutor/mentor) and assign it to the user context.
Under the heading of Course
- Change moodle/user:viewdetails to allow – to access the student’s profile
Under the heading of Users
- Change moodle/user:viewalldetails to allow - to view all aspects of the student’s profile
- Change any/all of the following capabilities to allow
- Click the “Create this role” button.
Some permissions may already be set to “Allow”, or the permissions granted here may not be the ones required for that Role. This set of Permissions mean that this Role allows anyone assigned to a Parent Role, then linked to the Student Role, to edit the profile or read the blogs of that Student – not everyone’s profile or blogs.
Assigning the new Role to the Student
Before we go any further I must point out the obvious. The parent needs to have their own account in your Moodle. This means they have their own name and password. The process/policy discussion round this is huge and not one for this post. But lets assume you have it created ok?
- Access the child’s profile page, via Administration > Site administration > Users > Accounts > Browse list of users
- Go to ‘Profile settings for [username]‘ > ‘Roles’ >’Assign roles relative to this user’
- Choose the role to assign (This is the role we just created above i.e. Parent)
- Select the parent in the potential users list and use the Add button to add it to the existing users list.
- Your done! No repeat as necessary if that parent has more than one child at your institution.
If you are interested in assigning several parent roles en masse there is a contributed plugin (use at your own risk) here CONTRIB-3938 which allows you to configure automatic role assignment between users from a database (ex: mentor/mentee or parent/child). You can also read the discussion at http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=70539#p345127)
The Mentees Block
The next question is, now that we have the roles assigned, how does the parent or Team Leader get to their child’s/staff’s profile? The good news is that Moodle has thought of this and has included the “Mentees Block”.
The Mentees block may be added to the site front page or to the My Moodle page. It provides a mentor/parent with quick access to their mentee(s)/child(s) profile page.
To add this block to the site front page:
- On the Front Page, turn editing on.
- Go to the Add Blocks block and select the Mentees block and when it appears, click on the Configuration icon.
- Edit the configuration settings to suit the needs of the site. When complete, save the changes and return to the Front Page. These settings include reaming the block to give better context and the ability to have it display across all pages of the site.
Note that as mentioned above this role can be used for not just parents but also is well suited to Tutor’s, Team Leaders, Mentors and other supervisory style roles. This is just an introduction to one of the many roles that you can build in Moodle. If you have any other roles you would like to see covered please detail them in the comments and Ill see what I can do.
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by moodleman at 14 September, 2013 12:33 PM
13 September, 2013
From the static Web to dynamic mobile browsing
In the beginning, when Learning Management Systems (LMSs) were young battlers, Moodle came about as a combatant that succeeded through its stubborn simplicity. Other LMSs attempted to overload interfaces with Java to achieve an edge. Moodle, on the other hand, stuck to standard Web interfaces to achieve the same result. The result was that Moodle was considered simpler and more user-friendly. If you knew how to use a Web browser, you could use Moodle; you didn’t have to have any additional browser plugins installed. Moodle’s usage grew rapidly, overtaking its competition, because people could understand it.
LMSs are also being used beyond the desktop. Now that we are finally seeing consistency among desktop browsers, developers are faced with a new challenge in the form of mobile devices. The standards set for the Web are still followed (although I think a mobile browser war is just getting started), but the physical interface to the browser is different on mobile devices. No longer can we rely on users with a mouse, keyboard and monitor; the Web has to work with touch interfaces also. We aren’t even afforded the luxury to assume a reasonable minimum screen size.
A new battleground
I have been involved in the bureaucratic effort to select a new LMS for a university. Battle was fought by lining up each LMS candidate side-by-side against a set of features. The LMS with the most checkmarks next to its name was the victor. Moodle won this battle many times because it was well featured. If the feature didn’t exist in the standard distribution, there were add-ons to supplement it, and if that wasn’t enough, you could always customise. The other thing Moodle had going for it was its underdog status, which I’ve talked about before.
About two years ago, at the 2011 Australian Moot, I sensed a new set if biases creeping into the public consciousness. No longer were people asking for more features, instead they were wanting style and speed. Does this mean Moodle is feature-complete? Probably not, but at least most people seem satisfied with the current feature set and seem to have shifted priorities. A new battleground has been forming in my mind in the last couple of years.
So what is Moodle doing to arm itself for this new battleground? Here are some newish additions to Moodle’s arsenal.
People spend a lot of time in Moodle using the editor. The WYSIWYG editor has been around from very early in Moodle’s history, but now it’s is being simplified. We’re still using TinyMCE for now, but keep your eyes open in future for a brand new, home-grown editor alternative that will be slicker still.
Access to the world’s data
Repositories are sources of files. They could be files on your computer, files on the institution’s server, files from the Web or files from “the cloud”. This concept seemed to stump some people at first, but it is now starting to make sense. At the advent of Moodle 2.0, there were a few teething problems with repositories, but this part of Moodle has settled down into something smooth and reliable.
An interface that works on anything
Apparently students and teachers have new-fangled mobile devices now, and they want to access their Moodle sites on these devices. Responsive themes allow a single Web interface to react to different screen sizes. On a large screen, the view is not too different from the standard theme, with a few rounded edges. On a small screen, things are rearranged: menus collapse into icons, blocks shift to below content and pop-ups fill the screen. There are a number of other changes that the use of touch devices have promoted as well. Not only is the interface becoming more usable on different devices, it’s also becoming more accessible to users with disabilities.
Is it working?
Well, none of the things I’ve mentioned above appeared on the feature list a few years back, so are they needed now? There are a large number of registered sites still on 1.9 – why? Is it a case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, or is the simplicity of older Moodle versions still more attractive to some users? Change, it seems, happens slowly in the world of education. Change can be dramatic for people.
When Mary Cooch conducted some training for existing Moodle users at Our Lady’s Catholic High School, the new interface was different enough that they did not recognise they were still using Moodle. One participant’s response was that the new system was “Unbelievably simpler than Moodle!” Others had similar comments, and even though it’s a small sample size, I think we can see that as evidence that Moodle is getting simpler.
The battleground of the future
The battle goes on.
The question now is where the battles of the future will be fought. Predicting the future is precarious, and I’m undoubtedly going to be proven wrong, but I have to speak at a conference next week, so I’d better come up with some ideas that sound slightly visionary.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a hot topic at the moment, with large courses being offered online to anyone willing to participate. Many are anticipating that MOOCs will have an impact on the future of higher education. Moodle has recently conducted what could be seen as an experimental step into the MOOC world. Check out learn.moodle.net.
Massive is big, but is there something bigger. Moodle and other LMSs have traditionally focussed on tertiary education and corporate training. There is a smattering of use in primary and secondary education, but it is limited to a relatively small number of classrooms. However when you compare the student numbers and budgets of these sectors side-by-side, primary and secondary education dwarf the other sectors. So why are LMSs not being used widely in primary and secondary education. I believe the answer is that primary and secondary teachers are not well supported and have less time to attempt such ventures than their colleagues in higher levels of education. Where LMSs could start to become useful is through large-scale integration at state or federal levels. If an LMS is set up where the curriculum is defined, teachers would be freed of the laborious tasks of gathering resources, establishing assessment and conducting grading. Instead they would be free to focus on what they do best: teaching.
End of one-size-fits-all education
At almost any level of education, once the class grows beyond a handful of students, necessity prevents teachers from implementing individual learning plans. The burden of assessing students regularly enough, measuring their performance and adjusting the curriculum to suit them becomes nearly impossible. But that is where LMSs can help. At the moment providing an individual path through a curriculum that automatically adjusts for a student is possible, but it is cumbersome. Hopefully we can improve on that in the future.
by Michael de Raadt at 13 September, 2013 02:18 PM
It has been a long time coming, but the blog has finally received an overhaul. Many may have noticed the old one was hacked, so I thought it may be time to move to a new site, a new version of software and a new look and feel.
With all that hard work out of the way, I also feel like maybe finally adding some new content. With all the excitement of Moodle 2.6 on the horizon I am sure I can add something interesting for readers.
In the meantime, enjoy the new look and feel and please let me know if you have any suggestions/issues or other feedback to report.
Julian (Moodleman) Ridden
The post Finally back with a new blog appeared first on Moodleman Blog.
by moodleman at 13 September, 2013 12:26 PM
In Moodle 2.5 Bas Brands and the team at Moodle HQ introduced the awesomeness of Bootstrap to the Moodle community and built it into the Moodle core code. At the same time a new theme was introduced called ‘Clean’. The original purpose of this theme was to make it easier for developers wanting to make Bootstrap themes to start off making their own new themes. If you have played with my “Essential” theme this was built upon the work done in “clean.
However, while it is definitely a lot easier than before, there are still a few concepts that might confuse many newly minted theme designers. To help assist those people Frédéric Massart has released a fantastic new building base called “Easy”.
As the name suggests, the purpose of this theme to provide an “easy” starting point for those theme designers who are starting out and want to get their heads (or other body parts of choice) around the basics of creating a bootstrap based theme fro Moodle.
The theme provides:
- No more settings, and so, no more use of the settings
- No more specific confusing functions
- Cleaned up config file
- Added inline documentation
- Specific renderer to add layout elements
- Extracted common elements from layout pages
- Quick method to customize Bootstrap using LESS
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by moodleman at 13 September, 2013 12:25 PM
Access your Evernote files through a Moodle repository.
Today Frédéric Massart from Moodle HQ released a fantastic new plugin for those who use Evernote as a repository of education related content. The plugin was funded as part of the 2013 Google Summer of Code (GSOC) for Moodle.
For those not familiar with GSoC it is a global program provided by Google that offers post-secondary student developers ages 18 and older stipends to write code for various open source software projects. Moodle has been part of GSoC for a few years now. Each year Moodle has listed several projects for GSoC students to participate in. For this particular project Frédéric mentored Vishal Raheja, the developer assigned to this project.
Once installed this new repository type allows users to browse their notes and download the files they contain. Access your notes via your notebooks, tags and saved searches. You can also use the powerful search provided by Evernote.
This is a great addition for any organisation that utilises the Evernote toolset and from my testing so far works as advertised.
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by moodleman at 13 September, 2013 11:43 AM